Previous archaeological investigation of the site at Badia Pozzeveri explored four different areas, corresponding to an area adjacent to the apse (Area 1000), the post-medieval cemetery (Area 2000), an area in front of the church (Area 3000), and the presumed location of the medieval monastery’s cloister. These areas will be further explored during the 2012 field season.
The excavation of the area adjacent to the church’s apse during the 2011 season revealed numerous anthropic interventions in post-medieval time, primarily associated with the restoration of the church and the construction of the modern cemetery. These multiple construction phases are suspected based on the presence of numerous postholes across the area and the accumulation of construction waste materials. Progressive excavation revealed the foundations of a post-medieval (~16th century) building extending in the area east of the north transect, whose nature and purpose are still unclear. Additionally, excavations identified a medieval ditch for drainage of the church, filled out in the 1800’s with waste materials, and an ossuary pit adjacent to the wall of the transect and containing the comingled remains of numerous individuals. During the 2012 season, the area was expanded to expose the entire post-medieval building’s boundaries and to improve our understanding of the stratigraphic relations of the features exposed during the previous season. Further excavation of the area revealed the presence of several medieval burials. The preservation of the burials was poor, but the material evidence found in the fill of the burials suggests they may date to the early middle ages.
Archaeological investigations of the area north of the church exposed the modern (~18th-19th century) cemetery. Excavation during the 2011 season brought to the recovery of over 30 individual burials of varied completeness and preservation. Some areas of the cemetery presented notable crowding, with more recent burials intersecting older ones, and unusual postures, with some of the skeletons lying on their side or face down. These findings are consistent with the haphazard disposal of multiple bodies over a relatively short period of time. This phase of the cemetery was dated to the mid-1800’s based on religious medals found in association with the skeletons. It seems reasonable to assume that it may have formed as a consequence of the cholera epidemics of 1855, well documented in numerous Tuscan localities, including Badia Pozzeveri. Additionally, excavations in area 2000 revealed the presence of a medieval wall perpendicular to the church’s wall in correspondence of the bell tower. The nature and purpose of this structure are still unclear. In 2012, we continued the excavation of the modern cemetery and, by expanding the excavation area, we located the children's cemetery, also know in Tuscany as "Paradisino". This cemetery was separated from the adult cemetery by a clearly pre-existing medieval wall. A total of 4 burials were excavated in 2012. One of the burials contained the remains of two children who were buried together, possibly as a consequence of a familial epidemic event. In the area we also identified two long trenches, tentatively dated to the 13th-14th century based on the materials found in their fill. The preliminary excavation of these trenches revealed the presence of human remains covered in lime. This suggests that the formation of the trenches may be related to a catastrophic event, the nature of which will be elucidated by the excavation of the trenches during the 2013 season.
The removal of present-day pavement layers in the area in front of the church’s entrance revealed the 1800’s paleosurface in front of the church, as well as numerous postholes, probably associated with the restoration of the façade and construction of the modern mortuary chamber. Further excavation highlighted the presence of comingled bones and sacred objects (medals, crosses) overlaying post-medieval and late medieval burials. Additionally, the progressive excavation of the area identified a buried medieval wall as a prosecution of the church’s northern perimetral wall. This finding is consistent with written accounts reporting that the medieval church was larger than the current one and extended westward for an additional 10 meters. In 2012, the area in front of the church was expanded to expose a greater portion of the foundations of the medieval church’s perimetral wall. A lithic tomb containing the remains of numerous individuals was found adjacent to the wall. Similar tombs were fairly common in medieval times and used for the interment of members of the same family over time. In this area, several other medieval and post-medieval burials were also excavated.
During the middle ages the Camaldolese monastery at Badia Pozzeveri was a major religious epicenter in the region. Upon the monastery decline and final abandonment in the 15th century, no emerging traces of its presence survived to the present day. Based on the typical configuration of medieval monasteries and preliminary investigations using the ground-penetrating radar, excavations to detect the cloister were conducted in an area located south of the church. The investigation of the post-medieval levels revealed a very well defined stratigraphic succession of road pavements over time. Further excavation lead to the discovery of a medieval wall running in a north-south direction, interpreted as a wall of the cloister. Additionally, the presence of scattered fragmented slate shingles over the entire area was interpreted to represent the outcome of the medieval roof’s collapse. During summer 2012 this area was expanded to explore a larger area around the medieval wall. The excavation revealed numerous interventions possibly related to the abandonment of the monastery and the construction of the buildings adjacent to the church, starting in the 15th century. Such interventions on this area make it difficult to determine the original function of the medieval wall. However, the discovery of a fragment of a pillar suggests that the cloister of the monastery was located in this area. Future expansions of the area in 2013 will certainly shed light on the nature of this building.