Poisoning histories in the Italian renaissance: The case of Pico Della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano

Gianni Gallello, Elisabetta Cilli, Fulvio Bartoli, Massimo Andretta, Lucio Calcagnile, Agustin Pastor, Miguel de la Guardia, Patrizia Serventi, Alberto Marino, Stefano Benazzi, Giorgio Gruppioni

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Abstract

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano were two of the most important humanists of the Italian Renaissance. They died suddenly in 1494 and their deaths have been for centuries a subject of debate. The exhumation of their remains offered the opportunity to study the cause of their death through a multidisciplinary research project. Anthropological analyses, together with documentary evidences, radiocarbon dating and ancient DNA analysis
supported the identification of the remains attributed to Pico. Macroscopic examination did not reveal paleopathological lesions or signs related to syphilis. Heavy metals analysis, carried out on bones and mummified tissues, showed that in Pico's remains there were potentially lethal levels of arsenic, supporting the philosopher's poisoning theory reported by documentary sources. The arsenic concentrations obtained from analysis of Poliziano's remains, are probably more related to an As chronic exposure or diagenetic processes
rather than poisoning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Pages (from-to)83-89
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Volume56
Issue number2018
Early online date28 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2018

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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd and Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine. All rights reserved.This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

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