Funeral spaces around the S. Maria (St. Mary) church
The area around the S. Maria (St. Mary) church between the 10th and the end of the 11th centuries was populated with tombs. We do not know who they belonged to, as it was not the custom back then to inscribe names, but it is likely that they were people linked by family or social ties to the Gherardeschi, founders of the chapel. In this phase, the tombs were dug into the ground and marked all around, or at the level of head and feet, by rough-hewn stones. The bodies lay individually and without clothes, wrapped in sheets or shrouds. In fact, when these tombs were excavated, no traces were found of either items of clothing or other outfit elements; besides, the arms spread along the body or folded and the position of the clavicles of skeletons confirmed that the deceased were shrouded by simple fabrics, without any evidence of the use of coffins.
Funeral uses after the establishment of the monastery
After the monastery was established, there was an increase in the number of tombs around the church, pointing to the influx of deceased from wider social circles. Nuns used to be buried behind the apse, whereas the remains of laymen were placed in the other spaces. For much of the 12th century, no changes were introduced into the funeral ritual, save for the use of wooden panels resting on stones to protect the buried from the pit-filling soil or the recourse to wooden stretchers.
From the 13th century, we have evidence of the new habit of burying the dead dressed up and/or adorned. During the excavation of the funeral area belonging to this chronology, finds in durable material (metal, bone, stones) were unearthed. They were originally sewn or fixed onto fabric or leather clothes, which have not instead survived.
Clothing and decoration of groups of different people
Thanks to the finds discovered in the tombs, it was possible to document, among those buried at the Badia, the presence of characters of varying types and social backgrounds. Atlantic shells, a pointer to a visit to the sanctuary of Compostela, attested the transit of pilgrims, as did the iron tip of a “bordone”, the staff that pilgrims and wayfarers used to cover large stretches of land on foot. Belt buckles of different kinds and sizes, reinforced buttonholes and decorated buttons, in addition to variously shaped rings, reflected the then current fashion among residents in the area surrounding the monastery, revealing moreover a certain deal of social differentiation between the tombs of more or less wealthy people. The same period also registered the appearance of coins laid in the tombs, perhaps as a sign of protection for the dead.
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