Originally published 07/08/2013
High on the facade of Santa Maria Antica, among soaring Gothic spires and forbidding statues of knights in armor, pathologist Gino Fornaciari prepared to examine a corpse. Accompanied by workmen, he had climbed a 30-foot scaffold erected against this medieval church in Verona, Italy, and watched as they used hydraulic jacks to raise the massive lid of a marble sarcophagus set in a niche. Peering inside, Fornaciari found the body of a male in his 30s, wearing a long silk mantle, arms crossed on his chest. The abdomen was distended from postmortem putrefaction, although Fornaciari caught no scent of decomposition, only a faint waft of incense. He and the laborers eased the body onto a stretcher and lowered it to the ground; after dark, they loaded it into a van and drove to a nearby hospital, where Fornaciari began a series of tests to determine why the nobleman died—and how he had lived.
Originally published 07/05/2013
ROME (AFP).- Alarm bells are ringing once more over the upkeep of Italy's historic monuments, from the Roman city of Pompeii to the Colosseum, with budget cuts hampering repairs and UNESCO issuing a stern rebuke."Over the last five years, the culture budget has been reduced by two thirds," Culture Minister Massimo Bray complained in an interview on Monday published in Italian newspapers.Italy is now lagging well behind its European counterparts: the country allocates just 1.1 percent of its budget to culture, compared to 7.4 percent in Ireland, 3.3 percent in Spain and 2.5 percent in France.The lack of funds is having a disastrous affect on the country's archaeological treasures, with many sites closed due to fears of rock collapses and others sporadically shut by protests and strikes....
Originally published 06/24/2013
The message inside "the world's most mysterious medieval manuscript" has eluded cryptographers, mathematicians and linguists for over a century.And for many, the so-called Voynich book is assumed to be a hoax.But a new study, published in the journal Plos One, suggests the manuscript may, after all, hold a genuine message.Scientists say they found linguistic patterns they believe to be meaningful words within the text.Whether or not it really does have any meaningful information, though, is much debated by amateurs and professionals alike....
Originally published 01/22/2013
The legendary Renaissance warrior Giovanni de’ Medici did not die from an improperly amputated leg, as widely believed, but an infection.Also known as “Giovanni dalle Bande Nere” for the black bands of mourning he wore after the death of Pope Leo X, the 16th century army commander was exhumed last November from his tomb in the Medici Chapels in Florence. Researchers also exhumed the bones of his wife, Maria Salviati.The couple married in 1516, when she was 17 and he was 18. The marriage produced only one child: Cosimo I, who reigned as the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, creating the Uffizi and the magnificent Boboli Gardens as well as finishing the Pitti Palace....
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