The History and Composition of the Identified Human Skeletal Collection of the Certosa Cemetery (Bologna, Italy, 19th-20th Century)

M. G. Belcastro (Lead / Corresponding author), B Bonfiglioli, M. E. Pedrosi, M. Zuppello, V. Tanganelli, V. Mariotti

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39 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to present the identified skeletal collection (by age, sex, cause of death, occupation and preservation state) from the Certosa Cemetery of Bologna (Italy), which was reviewed and checked through a consultation of the cemetery archives. The collection consists of 425 skeletons of individuals (from newborn to 91 years old) who died in Bologna between 1898 and 1944. The personal details associated with the skeletons were cross-checked with the data contained in the cemetery and municipal archives. For each skeleton, the biological profile was assessed using current anthropological methods in order to confirm its correct identification. Four hundred and eighteen skeletons (98.4%), mostly complete and well preserved, are identified at least for sex, and for 95% of these, the age is known. The distribution of sexes in the various age groups is fairly well balanced. The cause of death is known in 93% of the individuals. Approximately 30% of the individuals died from infectious diseases. The occupation is known for more than 92% of the individuals. Most of the women were housewives, while the men were employed in various jobs. The cross-check between archival data with the anthropological analysis of the remains enabled a reliable identification of the skeletons. The sexes and various age groups are well represented, and the sample is substantially uniform as far as geographical origin and socio-economic conditions (lower social classes) are concerned. Thanks to the reliability of the information collected, the Certosa collection is an excellent anthropological tool for the development and validation of osteobiographic methods.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Early online date28 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017


  • Age
  • Anthropology
  • Cause of death
  • Demography
  • Health
  • Preservation state
  • Sex


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