Behind the wall: a paleopathological examination of a non-adult subject from the cemetery of Santa Maria Maggiore, Vercelli

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Arianna Vanni
Roberta Fusco


vitamin deficiency, scurvy, nonadults, Santa Maria Maggiore


This study presents the anthropological and paleopathological investigation of  Non-adult#1, an infant recovered from Funerary Unit 12 within the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Vercelli, Italy. Non-adult#1 exhibited skeletal evidence suggestive of scurvy, characterized by diffuse porosity and new bone deposition in various skeletal elements. Through a comprehensive analysis incorporating macroscopic observations, skeletal measurements and cross-referencing with clinical and paleopathological literature, Non-adult#1 was classified as a probable case of scurvy. The interpretation of Non-adult#1's skeletal remains was further complicated by preservation challenges, incomplete mineralization and the fragmentary nature of the assemblage. Despite these complexities, Non-adult#1's pathology offers valuable insights into the health status and societal conditions of individuals in Modern Era northern Italy. This interdisciplinary approach underscores the importance of integrating archaeological, historical, and bioarchaeological perspectives to elucidate the complexities of past human health and well-being.

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