Many may have skeletons in the closet, but it has recently been discovered that one of Florence’s must-see museums has been hiding much more than a metaphorical dark secret.
An ancient mass grave holding around 60 skeletons has been found below Florence’s must-see art museum, the Uffizi Gallery.
The bones were found by construction workers during a project to install a new elevator into the museum.
The Uffizi Gallery itself has been there since the 1560s, however it is unlikely that the Renaissance builders even knew of the existence of those lying far below.
Yet to be officially carbon dated, coins buried with the bodies indicate they date back to the 6th century, with samples taken of the earth surrounding the bones showing they were all buried at the same time.
Being that there are no visible signs of foul play, theories are that they likely died of some form of plague.
Scientists are curious to ascertain if the bodies form part of a wider burial site in the area. It is though an unusual place to bury, given that the nearby River Arno is prone to occasional flooding.
Tests will also be carried out to determine if these people were passersby perhaps travelling along the river when they fell ill or if they were actually from the local area.
So often are ancient ruins, coins and other artifacts found in Italy that public works are overseen by on-site archeologists. This latest discovery is extremely unusual.
It is certainly an interesting find given the insight the bodies may provide into the lives of those living so many centuries ago, hailing from a period of decline that almost saw Florence wiped out.
Florence then came to be the birthplace of the Renaissance – literally, a “rebirth” from a period of darkness into one of light, culture and learning – during which the Uffizi Gallery and many of its most famous works were created.
It is thus quite fitting that this latest unburying could in itself lead to a rebirth of knowledge of an even earlier past.