CSI: Italian Renaissance

Inside a lab in Pisa, forensics pathologist Gino Fornaciari and his team investigate 500-year-old cold cases

Fornaciari’s analysis of an anonymous 13th- to 15th-century female skeleton showed evidence of severe anemia. (Dave Yoder)
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The plan to exhume Galileo is on hold, although Fornaciari remains optimistic that critics eventually will understand the validity of the investigation. “I honestly don’t know why people were so violently, so viscerally against the idea,” he says. He seems stunned and disheartened by the ruckus he’s kicked up. “Even some atheists had reactions that seemed to reveal decidedly theistic beliefs, akin to taboos and atavistic fears of contact with the dead. Surely they must see this isn’t a desecration. And we wouldn’t be disturbing his last rest—we could even help restore his remains, after the damage they undoubtedly suffered in the great flood of 1966 that hit Florence.”

It’s as if he is summing up his entire life’s work when he adds quietly: “Investigating that great book of nature that was Galileo would hardly harm his fame. On the contrary, it would enrich our knowledge of Galileo and the environment in which he lived and worked.”


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