Museum of: Rome
Name of the artefact: Bone pendant with circular indentations
This pendant, carved out in bone with several lines of holes, was collected in a grave of a male. The man buried with this pendant was probably a ‘big man’ who received a special treatment during his life (the cranium drilling) and death (a wealth burial of several vessels, stone and bone implements, shells and so on). These things were probably the personal mark of distinction of their proud owner, surely the chief of a large middle neolithic community living around the cave.
   
WHERE IS IT AND MAIN CHARACTERISTICS
   
STATE
   
Department:
-
 
Preservation:
Good    
Inventory number:
103254b
Restauration:
No restored
   
Name of the artefact:
Bone pendant with circular indentations
 
Completeness:
Incomplete    
   
Object type:
Jwellery
       
   
Material:
Bone (sheep metacarpus)
     
   
Methof of manufacture:
Polishing, incision
     
   
Decoration type:
Incision
     
   
Distinctive mark:
-
     
   
DIMENSIONS
 
PERIOD OF USE
   
   
Length (mm):
-
Epoque:
Neolithic
   
   
Heigth (mm):
-
Culture:
Linear Ware
   
   
Diameter (mm):
-
Period:
Middle Neolithic
   
   
Width (mm):
-
Face:
-
   
   
Thickness (mm):
-
Absolute chronology:
6300-5900 BP
   
   
Weight (g):
-
   
DISCOVERY
   
Date:
1949-59
Country:
Italy
   
District:
Lazio
Town hall affiliation:
Roma
Village:
Cerveteri
Discovery findspot:
Grotta Patrizi, Sasso di Furbara ,
Condition of discovery:
Archaeological excavation
Discovery type:
Deposit
ANALYSES – DETERMINATIONS
 
FILLED IN BY
Type:
-
Name:
Chiara Delpino, Vincenzo Tinè
Laboratory:
-
Institution:
-
No./Code:
-
Date:
10-2005
DEEPENINGS

Morphology of the object:

Rectangular fragment of a small plate made out of bone. On the surface it presents three lines of round indentations and the remains of another row. The surviving extremitiy is perforated. The plate is decorated on the smooth side while the other side has a sponge texture.

Decoration:

-

Inscription:

-

Analogies:

Another rectangular bone plate was recovered among the funerary objects. A hole is present on each of the extremities and the whole surface, as well as the sides, are polished(in exhibit at the Pigorini Museum, archive n. 103254a. The funerary ritual used in the burial in Grotta dei Patrizi bears analogies with the ones in Grotta dell’Orso, in Tuscany. In both cases we witnessed the appearance, in contrast to the Early Neolithic Period, of new rituals characterized by: ornamental items, vessels, shells and peculiar objects. There is a continuity in the use of ochre, in the frequent use of cinnabar, the innovative presence of stone circles and an increase of graining stones(with a clear symbolic relevance)positioned in the burials. In contraposition with the common practice, during the Early Neolithic Period, of laying the bodies on their left side, burials in the Grotta dei Patrizi were randomly positioned on their left, right side as well as seated. A new element is also the trepanation of the skull, a surgical practice that can be interpreted in a therapeutic function also in rituals.

Interpretation:

The pendant was recovered among the funerary objects of a male burial within the Grotta Patrizi. This cave, made out of different levels of galleries, with different rooms full of stalactites and stalagmites, was used in the Neolithic Period as a burial site: within the different chambers there were at least eight burials. The pendant’s owner probably held an important social status within the community and was buried with a peculiar ritual. First of all his funerary structure was elevated to a monumental status by placing a layer of stones to isolate and protect the body. Around the burial were located stone circles on the inside of which were various shaped vessels, some of which decorated and of fine craftsmanship as well as some grinding stones. The man had also suffered twice the trepanation of the skull. Surgery was undertaken while the man was still alive, he survived the operation which was subsequently repeated. The trepanation may have been carried out to give relief or end a pathology on a man who was not sane, as attested by the physical anomalies present on the skull, the masticatory and muscular apparatus. It is interesting to underline how ethnographic comparisons attest that among some of the current “primitive populations” the shaman is usually a person with physical or psychological anomalies. Two other neolithic examples of bodies on which the trepanation surgery was carried out have been recovered in Catignano (Tuscany) and Trasano (Basilicata). Even though it is impossible to determine the social role of the buried man found in the Grotta Patrizi it is certain that he held a prestigious position that earned him a special treatment and special funerary ritual compared to the other burials in the cave.
Bibliography:
BAGOLINI B., GRIFONI CREMONESI R., 1987, Il Neolitico italiano: facies culturali e manifestazioni funerarie, Bullettino di Paletnologia italiana, 85, n.s., III, pp.139-170 FAVATI VANNI V., 1962, Resti ossei umani di Grotta Patrizi (Sasso di Furbara), Archeologi,a Antropologia, Etnologia, XCII, pp.403-410 GERMANÀ F., FRONACIARI R., 1992, Trapanazione, craniotomie e traumi cranici in Italia dalla preistoria all’età moderna, Pisa GRIFONI CREMONESI R., 1967, La grotta dell’Orso di Sarteano, Origini, I, pp.53-115 GUILANE J., CREMONESI G., 1987, L’habitat néolithique de Trasano (Matera- Basilicata). Prémiers résultats, Atti XXVI Riunione scientifica istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria, Firenze, pp.707-720. PATRIZI S., RADMILLI A.M., MANGILI G., 1954, Sepoltura ad inumazione con cranio trapanato nella grotta Patrizi al Sasso di Furbara, Rivista di Antropologia, XLI, pp.33-68