The 1854-55 Cholera Pandemic in Tuscany and the Cholera Cemetery of the Village of Bennabbio
Keywords:Cholera, 19th century, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Prevention strategies, Funerary practice
AbstractIn the early 19th century the cholera endemic in Bengal spread to the West as an effect of the revolution in transportation resulting from the invention of the steam engine. Tuscany was struck in 1835 and then, even more violently, in 1854-55. Between 2007 and 2010, the Division of Paleopathology of the University of Pisa undertook the archaeological exploration of the cholera cemetery of Benabbio, a mountain village near Lucca, where the cholera lashed between August and October of 1855 causing 46 deaths in a population of around 900 inhabitants. The archaeological excavation of the cholera cemetery made it possible to detect for the first time the characteristics of these types of burials and provide a new resource for anthropologists and historians of medicine revealing the differences between persistent traditional local customs and regulations imposed by the religious and civic authorities.
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