July 21, 2013 3:30 PM   Subscribe

CSI: Italian Renaissance. "Inside a lab in Pisa, forensics pathologist Gino Fornaciari and his team investigate 500-year-old cold cases." [Via]
posted by homunculus (10 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Great article. Amazing how the simple things we take for granted took down even the rich and mighty and nobody knew why until our own age.
posted by localroger at 4:06 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Very interesting to read. I love knowing about these multi-skilled teams and the pieces of history they discover or correct. I really wish more well produced documentaries of things like this existed in the History Channel or somewhere, instead of the regular shitty programing.

Also amazing to me are the descriptions of all the maladies these historical people suffered from. Most of us with our own houses and air conditioning and toilets and showers really do live more like kings than the richest of the rich in those times.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:59 PM on July 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I really loved this article. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:11 PM on July 21, 2013

My kingdom for an Advil.
posted by nev at 5:35 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is fascinating stuff. I did not realize that we had the capabiliity to discover so much from people's skeletal remains, even centuries after their deaths. This man seems like a master in a field I barely even knew existed. What an interesting field of study.

Makes me hope that he will be allowed access to more remains, perhaps in England (the recently discovered burial plot of Richard III! And what about the Tower of London? Are the remains in Henry VIII's chapel really those of Anne Boleyn?)

Thanks for making this post!
posted by misha at 6:48 PM on July 21, 2013

This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I'd gone on further in academic history. The interdisciplinary work that historians can do with modern technology is mindbogglingly wonderful.
posted by immlass at 6:53 PM on July 21, 2013

Paleopathology is awesome. I briefly studied it when at college (under John Verano, who has done some neat work in the Andes regarding human sacrifice), but, unfortunately, my school was more focused on the classic "single person goes to a tribe and studies them" style of anthropology, so after I took the two classes, there wasn't much else to do.

But now I obsessively watch reruns of History Cold Case, because even though there are only eight episodes, it's still damnedly fascinating. (And Sue Black is pretty freakin' cool.)

My biggest problem was that even though I could identify plenty of human bones, and know exactly where they would go, I couldn't name the little bumps and ridges (that, of course, all had their own names). So you could throw a pile of broken bones on my desk, and I'd arrange them, but tell me to name that little ridge, and I'd go "Um...the little ridge on the ulna?"

Man, I loved those classes.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:39 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is fascinating stuff. I did not realize that we had the capabiliity to discover so much from people's skeletal remains, even centuries after their deaths.

It's one of the coolest things about people-- the chemical signatures of isotopes from your bones and teeth, the traces of strontium and nitrogen, did you eat a lot of fish, did you work on a ship, did you immigrate frim a warmer climate, were you a fisherman in deeper, colder waters? Skeleton analysis is endlessly fascinating with just the technology we have now! (But don't worry-- England has top-notch archaeologists and scientists who work on cases like this, should they decide to investigate past cases like those, though not everyone is keen to reopen cases and burial grounds.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:44 AM on July 22, 2013

In other recent awesome paleopathogy news, here's more on the surprisingly tough and short lives of Medici children.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:03 AM on July 22, 2013

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