Two important finds were made in the proximity of the final part of the cavern.
The first was a small group of paintings (covering a surface area of 30 × 30 cm), covered by a veil of calcite and situated close to a niche to the side of a spring, now dried up, and above a hole (probably enlarged recently) leading to a narrow tunnel in the cavern. The paintings are difficult to interpret, in fact every observer formulates a different interpretation. However, the general consensus is that at least two schematic representations are visible of anthropomorphic figures with legs, arms and a head that is either elongated or has horns. The style of these paintings appears coherent with the Upper Neolithic rock-art of the central Mediterranean.
The second find was a human cranium, also covered with calcite. Prior to the start of this project a piece of this cranium was radiocarbon dated using AMS by Dr Terence Meaden at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford University (UK). The results were: OxA-X-2236-44 5315±36 BP (1 sigma 4231-4056 BC, 2 sigma 4258-4006 BC), that is the final part of the 5th millennium B.C. This places the cranium in the first half of the Sardinian Neolithic in the so-called Ozieri Culture. The cranium was in the north-eastern end of the grotto, on top of a layer of stones, probably brought in from outside, which covered the entire cavern floor.
Other bones were found on the floor, in a number of niches and apertures, including another cranium of an adult individual covered with calcium carbonate, what may be a section of red deer antlers, also covered with calcite, fragments of an infant cranium and a long bone from a child. The latter was sampled for radiocarbon dating.
Four 1 × 1 m squares were excavated at the end of the grotto in the proximity of the calcite-covered cranium and of the paintings The main structure uncovered was a semicircle (0.9 m long and 0.9 m wide) formed by a group of stalagmites modified by the addition of several stone blocks to the upper part and now fixed in position by the water-deposited calcite. Inside the semicircle were a number of bones.
Close to the north-eastern side of the cavern, between the cranium, the stone circle and the paintings, a green stone axe was found. It was trapezoidal in shape, with a blade and the lower end was curved (length 79 mm, width at blade 34 mm, 19 mm wide at the lower end and 14 mm thick). The surface of the axe was not completely smooth, in fact the blade appeared to be the most polished part of the artefact.
Two possible intact basal deposits (Contexts 7 and 8) made up of compact deposits of stones, soil and micro-faunal remains, may be interpreted as natural deposits.
- Robin Skeates - Departmment of Archaeology, University of Durham
- M.A. Gradoli - COMET: Valorizzazione Risorse Territoriali
- Jessica Beckett
- University of Durham
- Fondazione Banco di Sardegna
- The British Academy
- The Prehistoric Society
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