An important structure found towards the eastern end of the shelter was constituted by a man-made pile of stones, resting against the back wall of the shelter itself and cemented by calcium carbonate from a nearby spring, now dried up. Before starting the excavation a number of fossilised human bones were identified close to the pile of stones.
Two 1 × 1 m squares were excavated directly in front of the stone pile. Thus it was possible to confirm that the pile of stones was built above a secondary funerary deposition. Within the excavated squares this intact deposit (Context 2) comprised: two badly preserved human crania of adult individuals and, close by, an artificial semicircle of stones within which there were several disarticulated and badly preserved human bones (mainly long bones but also fragments of a child’s cranium), also several animal bones (sheep/goat), five fairly large fragments of medium coarse pottery and several charcoal fragments.
The disturbed surface deposits (Context 1) contained twenty-two fragments of obsidian, a fragment of obsidian blade and numerous fragments of very eroded bone and pottery.
The specialist study of the human bones indicates that only some parts of the body, in particular the cranium and the long bones of adults and children, were deposited here as part of the secondary ritual and were then badly damaged by erosion due to the exposition of the shelter below the rock overhang.
Further evidence of secondary funerary practices, in particular of the movement of bones from one cavern to another, was represented by a human vertebra found in the upper deposit. This bone appeared to come from the same arthritic individual whose vertebra was found in Sa Grutta ‘e is Bittuleris.
Three human teeth were taken for DNA analysis. Fragments of DNA extracted from a tooth were assigned to the Aplogroup H.
- 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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