The principal theme of this volume is the importance of the public use of human remains in a historical perspective. The book presents a series of case studies aimed at offering historiographical and methodological reflections and providing interpretative approaches highlighting how, through the ages and with a succession of complex practices and uses, human remains have been imbued with a plurality of meanings. Covering a period running from late antiquity to the present day, the contributions are the combined results of multidisciplinary research pertaining to the realities of the Italian peninsula, hitherto not investigated with a long-term and multidisciplinary historical perspective.

From the relics of great men to the remains of patriots, and from anatomical specimens to the skeletons of the saints: through these case studies the scholars involved have investigated a wide range of human remains (real or reputed) and of meanings attributed to them, in order to decipher their function over the centuries. In doing so, they have traversed the interpretative boundaries of political history, religious history and the history of science, as required by questions aimed at integrating the anthropological, social and cultural aspects of a complex subject.

chapter |7 pages


BySilvia Cavicchioli, Luigi Provero

part Part I|38 pages

Norm and Praxis in Late Antiquity

chapter 1|18 pages

An Ignominious Burial

The Treatment of the Body of Jesus of Nazareth
ByAndrea Nicolotti

chapter 2|18 pages

The Cult of Relics in the Late Roman Empire

Legal Aspects
ByMaria G. Castello

part Part II|67 pages

Cults, Circulations and Battles for Relics

chapter 3|17 pages

A Liquid Miracle

The Origins of the Liquefaction Ritual of the Blood of Saint Januarius
ByFrancesco Paolo de Ceglia

chapter 4|14 pages

The Circulation of Roman Relics in the Savoy States

Dynamics of Devotion and Political Uses in the Modern and Contemporary Ages
ByPaolo Cozzo

chapter 5|17 pages

Jewish Intellectuals and the “Martyrdom” of Simon of Trent in Habsburg Restoration Italy

Anti-Semitism, Relics and Historical Criticism
ByEmanuele D’Antonio

chapter 6|17 pages

Some Observations on the Itinerary of Don Bosco’s Relics

ByMauro Forno

part Part III|52 pages

Collective Spaces of Death

chapter 7|13 pages

Cemeteries and Villages in the Thirteenth-Century Countryside

ByLuigi Provero

chapter 8|18 pages

Within, Beneath and Outside the City

The Space of the Dead in Early Modern Naples (Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries)
ByDiego Carnevale

chapter 9|19 pages

Bodies “as Objects Preserved in Museums” 1

The Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo
ByNatale Spineto

part Part IV|93 pages

Public Uses of Human Remains Between Politics, Religion and Science

chapter 10|20 pages

“Roasted and Eaten”

The Neapolitan Counter-Revolution of 1799 and the Use of Jacobin Remains
ByLuca Addante

chapter 11|19 pages

“You Can Tell a Man From His Head”

The Study and Preservation of the Skulls of Celebrated Italians in the Nineteenth Century
BySimone Baral

chapter 12|22 pages

The Remains of the Vanquished

Bodies and Martyrs of the Roman Republic From the Risorgimento to Fascism
BySilvia Cavicchioli

chapter 13|16 pages

The Medicalisation of the Corpse in Liberal Italy

National Legislation and the Case of Turin
BySilvano Montaldo

chapter 14|14 pages

Simulacra of Eternal Life

Ostensions, Exhibitions and the Concealment of Human Remains
ByMaria Teresa Milicia