During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance autopsy started to be practised for medico-legal purposes in order to investigate the causes of death. The other reason for dissecting a body was embalming, a diffused custom typical of the elitarian classes. The exploration of the Medici tombs in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence offered the opportunity to investigate the practice of autopsy on these aristocratic personages of the Renaissance and Early Modern Age. A total of 25 currently skeletonized individuals, almost all of whom formerly artificial mummies, were exhumed. Accurate examination of the skeletons revealed evident signs of autoptic practices such as horizontal and oblique craniotomies, longitudinal and transversal cuts of the sternum, and sectioning of the sternal extremities of the ribs. In this group, women were treated differently to men at autopsy, as only men underwent craniotomy; autopsy and embalming were carried out also for the illegitimate members of the family and for subaldults. The extremely rich documentary archives of the Medici family confirm that the corpses were in several cases submitted to autopsy. The present study offers important direct information on the 16–18th century autoptic practices that the court surgeons in Florence performed on the members of the elite class.

Autoptic practices in 16th–18th century Florence: Skeletal evidences from the Medici family

GIUFFRA, VALENTINA;FORNACIARI, ANTONIO;MINOZZI, SIMONA;FORNACIARI, GINO
2016

Abstract

During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance autopsy started to be practised for medico-legal purposes in order to investigate the causes of death. The other reason for dissecting a body was embalming, a diffused custom typical of the elitarian classes. The exploration of the Medici tombs in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence offered the opportunity to investigate the practice of autopsy on these aristocratic personages of the Renaissance and Early Modern Age. A total of 25 currently skeletonized individuals, almost all of whom formerly artificial mummies, were exhumed. Accurate examination of the skeletons revealed evident signs of autoptic practices such as horizontal and oblique craniotomies, longitudinal and transversal cuts of the sternum, and sectioning of the sternal extremities of the ribs. In this group, women were treated differently to men at autopsy, as only men underwent craniotomy; autopsy and embalming were carried out also for the illegitimate members of the family and for subaldults. The extremely rich documentary archives of the Medici family confirm that the corpses were in several cases submitted to autopsy. The present study offers important direct information on the 16–18th century autoptic practices that the court surgeons in Florence performed on the members of the elite class.
Giuffra, Valentina; Fornaciari, Antonio; Minozzi, Simona; Vitiello, Angelica; Fornaciari, Gino
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/825609
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