A multidisciplinary – anthropological, taphonomic and genetic study – conducted in collaboration between researchers from the University of Ferrara and Florence has allowed to analyze and interpret the lesions present on a human skeleton coming from a Roman burial
The exhibit was discovered by the then Archaeological Superintendence of the Veneto during the archaeological emergency excavations conducted in 2006-2007 on the occasion of the laying of the pipeline in La Larda di Gavello, near Rovigo.
The deposition had taken place in an isolated burial without any trousseau. The biological and genetic profile of the individual indicates that it was a man who died at 30-34 years of frail physique and short stature.
“In the specific case, despite the poor conditions of conservation – says Professor Emanuela Gualdi, of the Department of Biomedical and Surgical Sciences of Unife – we have been able to demonstrate the presence of signs on the skeleton that indicate a violence similar to the crucifixion”.
“The right heel (the only one preserved) shows unequivocally a lesion peri mortem (breakthrough) from the medial side (entrance hole) .The lesion then crosses the heel to the outer side of the foot, confirming the hypothesis of an execution through crucifixion “, adds Dr. Nicoletta Onisto, from the Department of Biomedical and Surgical Sciences of our University.
“This type of execution – continued Professor Ursula Thun Hohenstein of the Department of Humanistic Studies in Unife – was generally reserved for slaves, and the same topographical marginalization of the burial leads one to think that it was an individual considered dangerous and neglected by the society in which he lived. who refused him even after death. “
“The importance of the discovery lies in the fact that it is the second case documented in the world, although in fact this brutal type of execution has been perfected and practiced for a long time by the Romans, the difficulties in preserving the damaged bones and, subsequently, the interpretation of traumas. hinder the recognition of victims of crucifixion, making this testimony even more precious “concludes Thun.
The study, entitled “A multidisciplinary study of calcaneal trauma in Roman Italy: a possible case of crucifixion?” Was published by the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.
The article is available at the following links: