Modern double burial in Central Italy: funerary chamber of the Buondelmonti family in the Basilica of Santa Maria dell’Impruneta (Florence)

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Matteo Bini
Valentina Giuffra
Antonio Fornaciari

Keywords

Secondary burial, sitting colatoio, funerary archaeology, Tuscany, Buondelmonti.

Abstract

This work aims to analyze the particular burial of the Buondelmonti, one of the most important aristocratic Florentine families of the late Middles Ages and Modern Age, who had great power not only in the city, but also in the Florentine countryside. Their history has always been linked to the parish church of Santa Maria dell'Impruneta, not far from Florence, where the family built their own burial chamber. Both written and material sources state that the aristocratic Buondelmonti family was buried in this hypogeum, according to the standard double burial rite, with the corpse initially positioned on seats with a central hole and successively placed in an ossuary. This practice, which consisted in using an architectural structure, called sitting colatoio, was adopted to favour the skeletonization of the bodies. This structure as used by embers of lay brotherhoods and convents especially in southern Italy, with sporadic cases in other areas of the country. The Buondelmonti tomb appears to be the first example of this kind of burial in Tuscany and, more importantly, the oldest discovered to date in Italy (1591). In light of the data that have emerged from this study, the authors will try to establish the reasons why the members of the family decided to be buried in this anomalous way, and above all how this Florentine family came into contact with this practice around the end of the 1500s.

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