Over 250 burials and the skeleton of a horse unearthed at ancient necropolis in Milan

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Work on the new underground line 4 in Milan has brought to light a necropolis with over 250 skeletons belonging to burials from different eras. Among the remains found there is also that of a horse that according to archaeologists is “the first example of equine burial found in Milan.”

Over 250 burials and the skeleton of a horse unearthed at ancient necropolis in Milan
Credit: Università degli Studi di Milano

The findings were made in front of the Basilica of San Vittore al Corpo, near the construction site for the Stazione Sant’Ambrogio in M4, where the first phase of the archaeological excavations was completed.




“This area,” explained Antonella Ranaldi, Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the Metropolitan City of Milan, “has preserved a necropolis from Roman times until the Sixteenth century.”

Over 250 burials and the skeleton of a horse unearthed at ancient necropolis in Milan
Credit: Università degli Studi di Milano

Cristina Cattaneo, legal doctor and director of Labanof, the Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Dentistry of the University of Milan, stressed the importance of the skeletons found. “Some discoveries are extremely interesting, for example the first case of tuberculosis. Right here, in fact, we found a spine with the typical lesions of tuberculosis,” she said. “In the mass graves we have also found skeletons with signs of contusive head injuries and we think these are executions.”




The excavations have also brought to light the skeleton of a horse. Archaeologist Giuliana Cuomo, site manager for the Cooperativa Archeologia, made it clear that this is “the first case of equine burial found in Milan”.

“It is an unusual fact in itself,” added Superintendent Ranaldi, “that raises questions about why it was in this area where there were precious tombs. We have not found anything else together with the skeleton, but if they have buried it in this area it must have belonged to some important personage”.

This phase of archaeological excavations is over, all the findings have been removed from the site to be catalogued and studied.

Source: Milano Today [trsl. TANN, August 14, 2019]

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