Open Access Research Article

A Taphonomic Examination of Inhumed and Entombed Remains in Parma Cemeteries, Italy

Edda Guareschi, Ian R Dadour and Paola A Magni*

Medical, Molecular & Forensic Sciences, Murdoch University, Australia

Corresponding Author

Received Date: April 15, 2019;  Published Date: May 23, 2019


People of different cultures bury their dead in different ways, based on religious beliefs, historical rituals, or public health requirements. In Italy, cremation is still a limited practice compared to entombment and inhumation. Accordingly with the law, a buried body can be moved to the cemetery ossuary only if skeletonized. Generally, complete skeletonization occurs within 40 years following burial, but sometimes the body may mummify, or it may turn into adipocere. Globally, today burial space is limited with cemeteries facing a growing need for both burials and entombments. The present study considered the thanatological, taphonomical, anthropological, microbiological and geochemical examination of 408 human bodies exhumed from grave pits and stone tombs located in two cemeteries in Parma, Italy. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors associated with the process of the decomposition of such bodies were documented in order to identify which factors promote or reduce the time needed for skeletonization. Overall, the aim of this study was to improve the management of the body turnover in cemeteries, providing recommendations for cemetery management and turnover planning, with the goal of avoiding extra costs that may be attributed to the family and the State. The results of this study show that inhumation in burial grounds and soils with a high percentage of sand and gravel promote decomposition and skeletonization, whereas entombments inside stone tombs and the presence of stone slabs on the ground covering burials, aid in the formation of adipocere, slowing down the decomposition process.

Keywords: Inhumation; Entombment; Forensic taphonomy; Adipocere

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