Skeletal Remains Found in the Area
As work continues on the New Uffizi project, workers came upon human remains under the reading room of the Uffizi Library, right next to the Piazza del Grano. Over the last few months, scientists on the now archaeological site have determined there are about 60 skeletons from the 5th-6th century.
The findings reveal an important era of the city’s history, in the late Roman period when this area what located outside of the Roman city walls and continuously flooded by the river. Up to now, research had never revealed that the area has been lived on, actually it was often used as a dumping ground as pieces of construction material were the only things found when any type of digging went on (at higher levels). It might have been the growth of this material itself which made the earth in this area grow, when memory of the burial ground had been forgotten.
What the new findings indicate is that the area was used as an emergency burial place, likely as a result of an epidemic in the town. The way the skeletons are unevenly positioned, here and there with feet next to heads and very close to each other indicate they were done in a hurry and sought to make the most of the space available. Scientists thus believe it must have been a summertime epidemic, when the river was low and this area was revealed, soft with the river sediments deposited during the winter months when rain elevated the river.
Studies will continue and hopefully reveal more about the actual cause of death and offer new ideas of what life must have been like in the Florence of many centuries ago. What we do know is that when Vasari constructed his Uffizi in this area he had most of the late medieval buildings destroyed, traces of which have also been found as work on the New Uffizi continues.