Plants and aromatics for embalming in Late Middle Ages and modern period: a synthesis of written sources and archaeobotanical data (France, Italy)

Abstract : Occasionally mentioned in written sources since the Early Middle Ages, embalming with evisceration spreads considerably and becomes quite usual practice for aristocratic elites from the late 13th century to the early 19th century. Apothecaries prepare aromatic powders including many plant organs and exudates supposed to preserve the body. Numerous encyclopaedias and treatises of medicine list these ingredients and show that the recipes are very diverse. Moreover, several studies of embalmed bodies have demonstrated the potential of archaeobotanical analyses coupling pollen and macro-remains for identifying this material. This paper aims to compile a synthesis of written and archaeological sources from France and Italy, and to assess the relevance of an interdisciplinary approach for a better understanding of this aristocratic burial practice. It demonstrates that both types of sources and approaches are strongly complementary and highlights their inherent advantages and methodological limitations. In order to understand which criteria were determinant in the composition of the embalming powders, their medicinal, odoriferous and symbolic properties are discussed. Finally, this work proposes some methodological perspectives and triggers new research avenues on the history of pharmacy in Late Medieval and modern Europe.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [24 references]  Display  Hide  Download

https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01566177
Contributor : Sandrine Musacchia <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 12:43:55 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - 6:42:03 AM
Long-term archiving on : Thursday, December 27, 2018 - 6:32:02 PM

File

Corbineau et al_Plants and aro...
Files produced by the author(s)

Identifiers

Citation

Rémi Corbineau, Marie-Pierre Ruas, Delphine Barbier-Pain, Gino Fornaciari, Helene Dupont, et al.. Plants and aromatics for embalming in Late Middle Ages and modern period: a synthesis of written sources and archaeobotanical data (France, Italy). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, Springer Verlag, 2018, 27 (1), pp.151-164. ⟨https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00334-017-0620-4⟩. ⟨10.1007/s00334-017-0620-4⟩. ⟨halshs-01566177⟩

Share

Metrics

Record views

812

Files downloads

200