Ancient skeletons dug up at Florence's Uffizi

February 12, 2014

Work to expand the Uffizi Gallery's exhibit space has unearthed an ancient cemetery with dozens of skeletons archaeologists say might have been victims of the plague or some other epidemic that swept through Florence during the 4th or 5th century.

Archaeologists and art officials showed reporters Wednesday the excavation at the renowned museum. In five months of digging, archaeologists uncovered 60 well-preserved skeletons in a cemetery apparently made in a hurry, perhaps a , with bodies laid side-by-side at roughly the same time.

Lack of signs of wounds or malnutrition also could point to death by disease. Archaeologist Andrea Pessina says DNA testing will aim to find evidence of what "certainly was an extremely lethal epidemic," possibly the plague.

Work to build an elevator revealed the .

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