Photo Gallery: Rocca San Silvestro, summer 2023

We have released a photo gallery of 2023 summer fieldwork in Rocca San Silvestro, to be found in Media > Photo Gallery. A description follows, written by anthropologist and team member Serena Viva, who worked on site:

Serena showing to Rose the bone pathologies in the bioarchaeological laboratory in Villa Lanzi.

From the 3rd to the 14th of July a geochemical research campaign, carried out by the Department of History and Cultural Heritage, University of Siena, took place in the Archaeological mines park of San Silvestro. The team, guided by Professor Luisa Dallai (responsible for the topography and mineral landscape remote-sensing laboratory) realised soil analyses with the aid of a portable XRF. The samples were taken from mineral extraction areas and in some of the medieval buildings of the burg, located within the walls of the medieval castle of San Silvestro, and in proximity of the coeval extraction mines. This challenging research will attempt to shed light on the dynamics of mineral exploitation, and it will locate the presence of pollutant metals and their level of contamination on the soil which may have compromised the health status of the community at the time.

Meanwhile, the Bioarcheology laboratory carried out by Serena Viva (anthropologist), Mauro Buonincontri (archaeobotanist), and Andrea Tommolini (zooarchaeologist), has had its first two weeks. Serena is analysing the human remains of men, women and children, recovered from past archaeological excavations. These villagers were buried between the XIII and XIV centuries AD in the small graveyard in front of the church. Mauro and Andrea are studying the macro plant remains and the animal bones in order to discover husbandry practices, agricultural production, and the food quality of the medieval community. The agricultural and forest habitat exploitation research will enable us to shed light onto the evolution and ecological changes derived from anthropic activities. The laboratory continued for the rest of July.

Luisa Dallai and her team using portable XRF in a mineral cave in Lanzi Valley.

The bio & geo research project name is “Miners” and it is part of the bigger international project, “Pursuing Public Health in the Preindustrial World”, which has the objective of studying modern age public healthcare. This study involves several universities from all around the world. Apart from the University of Siena (Italy), there are the Monash University of Melbourne (Australia), Australian Catholic University (Australia), Delhi University (India) and Leiden University (Netherlands). Each one of those will study different communities.

Meeting at the Archaeological Mines Park of San Silvestro: from the left, Monash University Phd candidate Rose Byfleet, zooarchaeologist Andrea Tommolini, anthropologist Serena Viva, and archaeobotanist Mauro Buonincontri of the University of Siena.

A photo gallery of the work, the people, and the collaborations can be found in our Media -> Photo Gallery page.

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