Skeletons Reveal Tuscan Life in the Time of Cholera
"Thousand-year cemetery" records a millennium of tough living in Tuscany.
Tuscany is synonymous with the good life—wine, rolling hills, luscious cuisine. But for many years it was a pretty tough place to live.
At the Badia Pozzeveri church cemetery near Lucca, archaeologists have uncovered skeletons that hold a thousand-year record of ills and tragedies, including possible clues to the spread of a cholera epidemic that wiped out thousands of Tuscans in the 1850s.
The skeletons reveal a millennium of hardship and poor health starting in the 11th century, with bone infections, dental cavities, and poor diets fueled mainly by carbohydrates. One of the oldest sections of the site contains victims of the Black Death in the 1300s; capping off the most recent burials are cholera victims. (Learn more about studies of