Voices from the cloister. Bioarchaeology of a modern Nunnery

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Roberta Fusco


Female monastic population, burial ritual, convent, putridarium, double burial


The Church of SS. Annunziata, Valenza (northern Italy) founded in 1699, harbors a crypt with 29 burial cells. Here, the Augustinian nuns of the nearby cloistered convent received a particular type of inhumation. The nuns were deposed inside the crypt in a sitting position, on a step inside a cell. The corpses were supported by a stick placed at the level of the bust, probably a vase was located beneath the seat to collect the decomposition fluids. The skeletal remains of the nuns underwent an extensive anthropological-palaeopathological analysis. This analysis provides considerable insight into the daily life of a group of cloistered nuns in the 18th century. The study of the history of female monastic communities is important for understanding this important part of the Christian tradition.

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