The Italian Bell-Beaker (Final Copper Age) has been widely studied, yet little is known about its archaeofaunas. Reported are the results of the analysis of the archaeofauna from Semitella, which is one of the largest and most important Bell-Beaker sites in Italy. The site yielded an intentionally buried bovine skeleton and contained many pits, scattered throughout the excavated area. These pits may have originally contained the corpses of the animals whose bones are represented in the sample. The hypothesis is that Semitella was a sort of cemetery for animal carcasses, or a dumping ground where carcass discards and animal cadavers were thrown or buried. A careful taphonomic and zooarchaeological analyses were therefore mandatory. The study confirmed the hypothesis. It in fact revealed a poorly diversified, selected fauna, dominated by domestic taxa, matched to a strikingly low incidence of bone surface modifications, which is the expected state of bones that have been rapidly subtracted to biostratinomic agents. The accumulated evidence indicates that Semitella was a dumping and/or a burial ground for animal corpses in the surroundings of a nearby settlement. The assemblage’s final arrangement is the result of floodings that removed the disarticulated skeletal parts scattering them downstream. What remains unresolved is whether, or not, the burials were connected with ritual practices.

Semitella, an Italian Bell-Beaker (Final Copper Age) animal burial ground / S. Perusin; P. Mazza. - In: JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE. - ISSN 0305-4403. - STAMPA. - 37(2010), pp. 737-757. [10.1016/j.jas.2009.11.005]

Semitella, an Italian Bell-Beaker (Final Copper Age) animal burial ground

MAZZA, PAUL
2010

Abstract

The Italian Bell-Beaker (Final Copper Age) has been widely studied, yet little is known about its archaeofaunas. Reported are the results of the analysis of the archaeofauna from Semitella, which is one of the largest and most important Bell-Beaker sites in Italy. The site yielded an intentionally buried bovine skeleton and contained many pits, scattered throughout the excavated area. These pits may have originally contained the corpses of the animals whose bones are represented in the sample. The hypothesis is that Semitella was a sort of cemetery for animal carcasses, or a dumping ground where carcass discards and animal cadavers were thrown or buried. A careful taphonomic and zooarchaeological analyses were therefore mandatory. The study confirmed the hypothesis. It in fact revealed a poorly diversified, selected fauna, dominated by domestic taxa, matched to a strikingly low incidence of bone surface modifications, which is the expected state of bones that have been rapidly subtracted to biostratinomic agents. The accumulated evidence indicates that Semitella was a dumping and/or a burial ground for animal corpses in the surroundings of a nearby settlement. The assemblage’s final arrangement is the result of floodings that removed the disarticulated skeletal parts scattering them downstream. What remains unresolved is whether, or not, the burials were connected with ritual practices.
37
737
757
S. Perusin; P. Mazza
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2158/386229
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