Italy: after being buried, this mother gave birth to her baby… in her grave

In Italy, a team of archaeologists discovered a medieval tomb housing the body of a woman with a… fetus between her legs! Explanations.

In 2010, archaeologists found a medieval tomb dating from the 7th-8th century AD, in Imola (northern Italy).

At the time, this discovery fascinated a large number of researchers. The reason ? The burial housed the body of a woman with the bones of a fetus between her legs. But that’s not all ! The deceased had a head injury.

Photo credit: Pasini et al./World Neurosurgery

A fascinating discovery

February 2018, researchers from the Universities of Ferrara and Bologna published an analysis of the bones in the medical journal “World Neurosurgery”. The results revealed that the mother was between 25 and 35 years old.

The specialists also measured the length of the femur of the fetus: it was 38 weeks old. Note that the baby’s head and upper body were found under the woman’s pelvic cavity. Well, his leg bones were still inside.

Photo credit: Pasini et al./World Neurosurgery

This positioning indicates that the infant was very close to being born. You may not know it, but this situation is a rare case of post-mortem fetal expulsion or coffin birth.

And the least we can say is that the human body will always surprise us. When a pregnant woman dies, decomposition gas accumulates in the body, explains bioarchaeologist Siân Halcrow of the University of Otago (New Zealand). Result: this overflow causes a forced expulsion of the fetus.

The deceased probably suffered from pre-eclampsia

The research team also looked into the causes of the mother’s death. As we had mentioned above, the latter had a small wound of 5 mm in diameter on the top of the forehead.

Photo credit: Pasini et al./World Neurosurgery

For scientists, this mark means that the deceased underwent trepanation, an operation consisting of making a hole in the cranial box to extract tumors. The young woman would have died a week after her intervention.

Also according to the Italian researchers, trepanation was performed on the patient because the latter suffered from pre-eclampsia. This pregnancy disease is characterized by convulsive seizures caused by intracranial arterial hypertension.

“Because trepanation was once used in the treatment of hypertension to reduce blood pressure in the skull, we hypothesized that this lesion may be associated with the treatment of hypertensive pregnancy disorder.”

Unfortunately, mother and child did not survive.

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