Virtual anthropological study of the skeletal remains of San Fortunato (Italy, third century AD) with multislice computed tomography

Fabrice Dedouit, Giuseppe Guglielmi, Gabriela Perilli, Michelangelo Nasuto, Norbert Telmon, Vittorio Fineschi, Cristoforo Pomara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In June 2010, the priests of the church of Santa Maria in Silvis in Serracapriola, Italy, asked the University of Foggia to study skeletal remains which they believed to be those of San Fortunato. San Fortunato lived in Rome in the third century AD and little is known about his life and death. For forensic and anthropological study to determine the geographical origin, sex, age, stature and diagnose any diseases, multislice computed tomography (MSCT) was performed. Due to time and administrative constraints (we had access to the remains for only one day, and no biological sampling was permitted), dry bone and DNA analyses were not performed. The remains, thought to be 17 centuries old, were severely damaged and conventional anthropological methods already transposed to MSCT could not be used. However, considerable information for reconstructive identification was obtained. The skeletal remains were those of an Italian male, of height between 1.53. m and 1.56. m, with age at death estimated between 20 and 40 years. The effects of taphonomic processes were also visible. No historical physical description of San Fortunato is available so we were unable to compare our results. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case in which MSCT has been used to examine the presumed skeletal remains of a Saint. It also demonstrates that reconstructive identification can be performed independently of dry bone study and illustrates the value of MSCT when skeletal remains must be preserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forensic Radiology and Imaging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Anthropology
  • Computed tomography
  • Forensic science
  • Identification
  • Saint
  • Skeletal remains
  • Taphonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Virtual anthropological study of the skeletal remains of San Fortunato (Italy, third century AD) with multislice computed tomography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this