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The Thousand-Year Graveyard

by Ed Hagen last modified Dec 13, 2013 12:21 PM
BADIA POZZEVERI CHURCHYARD, ALTIPASCIO, ITALY—On a hot afternoon in July 2012, Giuseppe Vercellotti was digging up bones near the wall of an abandoned medieval church here, thinking about getting a cold drink, when he heard his students call his name. Faces glistening with sweat, they told him that they had found something strange buried half a meter down. Vercellotti took a look and saw a layer of lime, used in ancient times to squelch the stench of rotting corpses. When he tapped the hard layer with his trowel, it sounded hollow.
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