PresentationPDF Available
46th Congress of the International
Society for the History of Medicine
Lisbon, Portugal
3-7 September 2018
Preliminary notes on a human
eared skull
Veronica Papa1,2,3, Elena Varotto3,4, Silvio del Pizzo2,5, Salvatore Troisi2,5,
Fabiana Di Ciaccio2,5, Silvia Sofia Staiano3, Carmine Lubritto6, Stefano
Vanin7, Mauro Vaccarezza8,9
and Francesco Maria Galassi3,4
1Department of Sport Sciences and Wellness, University of Naples “Parthenope”, Naples, Italy; 2School of Science, Engineering and Health, University of Naples “Parthenope”, Naples, Italy; 3Forensic
Anthropology, Paleopathology, and Bioarchaeology (FAPAB) Research Center, Avola, Italy; 4Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Archaeology, Adelaide 5001, SA, Australia;
5Department of Sciences and Technologies, University of Naples “Parthenope” Naples, Italy; 6Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Science and Technology University of Campania
“Luigi Vanvitelli,” Caserta, Italy; 7Departmenf of Life Science, Environment and Earth (DiSTAV), University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy; 8Curtin Medical School, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Bentley,
Perth, Western Australia, Australia; 9Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI), Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Bentley, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
The Church of Santa
Luciella ai Librai
The small church, located in the
Old Town of Naples, dates back to
the 14th century.
It is a 3-storey building consisting
of a hypogeum which is accessed
from the sacristy through a
The eared skull
The skull is located on a
shelf on the eastern wall of
the Church
It resembles the memento mori
a mosaic from Pompei,
exhibited at MANN
(Archaeological) in Naples
The purpose of this study was:
to detail the unique case of the so-
called eared-skull, which is
currently exhibited in the
hypogeum of the musealised
Church of Santa Luciella ai Librai
in Naples (Italy).
We used a multidisciplinary approach
palaeopathological and
photogrammetric analysis.
Here we report some preliminary
Anthropological analysis
The preserved skull consists of the neurocranium, while most of its
splanchnocranium is absent, and only the nasal bones are present
Anthropological methods to determine sex and estimate age
demonstrated that the skull was that of an adult male.
Palaeopathological analysis
the absence of the
sagittal suture and
porotic hyperostosis
were described.
The temporal bones were outwardly rotated, which had
been wrongly assumed to be mummified auricular
structures in the past.
Human remains in the hypogeum were radiocarbon tested 14C 1631-
Entomological analysis of soil samples revealed species of insects
associated with body decomposition as well as with wooden coffins.
Radiocarbon dating & Entomological analysis
Photogrammetric reconstruction
Digital Imagery
Data Acquisition
3D Model
Photogrammetric reconstruction
Photogrammetric reconstruction
setup was realized
introducing a
calibrated scale
bars on the
survey scene, and
a rendering
software was used
to produce a
digital 3D model
Here we reported the preliminary results from the study of a
human eared skull.
This study used a multidisciplinary approach combining
photogrammetric elaboration and palaepathological observation.
The application of the anthropological methods revealed that the
skull was that of an adult male.
Since only the coronal suture was clearly visible, a more precise
range for age at death of this individual cannot be estimated.
The squamous portion of the temporal bone were outwardly
rotated on both sides, therefore forming ear-like structures.
Acknowledgments: We wish to thank the Associazione Respiriamo Arte for giving us the opportunity to study the
described skull.
Thank you! @VeronicaPapa6
... The skull belonged to an adult male who suffered from porotic hyperostosis, a condition characterized by porotic lesions and thickening of the cranial vault, likely due to anemia/chronic malnutrition; the calvarium is also missing the sagittal suture; radiocarbon testing dates it between 1631 and 1668. As for ''the ears'', they consist of the squamous portion of the temporal bones rotated outward on both sides of the skull [29], this displacement having definitely occurred post mortem. One could imagine that after death the posterior part of the temporal bone remained relatively fixed to the calvarium, whereas the anterior temporal squama became disarticulated from the parietal and sphenoid bones, and displaced towards the exterior, thus producing ear-like protuberances (Fig. 6). ...
Background A mortuary practice of great interest based on secondary burial and widespread in Naples until the nineteenth century was the one hosted in the Terresante, the graves of the lay brotherhoods located within ecclesiastical hypogea. Methodology The article is based on a review of published papers and books dealing with secondary burial in Naples searched using Google Scholar, PsycInfo, Scirus and Medline, supplemented with bibliographies of retrieved references. A total of 22 published studies on the subject were identified and analyzed. Results The Terresante were endowed with basins filled with earth in which corpses were superficially buried for a first decomposition; after a period of time insufficient for a complete skeletonization, the bodies were moved into niches in the walls of the crypt to complete their decomposition; once skeletonization was accomplished, the skulls were displayed, while post-cranial bones were placed in a common ossuary included in the hypogeum. At the base of the ritual there seemed to be an idea of death perceived not as a sudden event, but instead as a long-lasting process, during which the deceased went through a transitional phase, gradually passing from the earthly state to the afterlife. Moreover, the ritual wanted to symbolize, through the progressive corpse decomposition, the path of the soul towards the afterlife, a destination considered reached only when the skeletonization was complete and the final burial of the bones carried out. Conclusion This article reviews the structural organization of the Terresante, the funerary practices they housed as well as the worships which took root and developed within them. The cult of the dead in Naples has involved noticeable religious, historical, architectural and artistic elements and, many centuries after its birth, continues to represent an interesting source of reflection, study and research.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.