Micromorphological investigations at Scaloria Cave (Puglia, South-east Italy): new evidences of multifunctional use of the space during the Neolithic

  • I. RelliniEmail author
  • M. Firpo
  • E. Isetti
  • G. Rossi
  • J. Robb
  • D. Pian
  • A. Traverso
Original Paper


Scaloria Cave represents one of the most extraordinary examples of elaborate cave use known in Neolithic Italy. It became famous thanks to the spectacular evidence for the ritual collection of stillicide waters discovered in the Lower Chamber. Recent excavations in the Upper Chamber have uncovered traces of both habitation and ritual deposition of human bone dating to three or more phases of the Neolithic, implying an occupational use of the cave in addition to its function as cemetery. A micromorphological sampling program was implemented to reinvestigate the stratigraphic succession of the Upper Chamber of the cave, where most of the cave’s human use took place and where all systematic excavations have been conducted. The micromorphological evidence and new absolute dates attest use of the cave for stabling activity in the first half of the sixth millennium BC, corroborating the human-goat/sheep cohabitation, while also confirming the ongoing use of the cave for non-funerary purposes throughout the middle Neolithic. Finally, the contextual and spatial analyses of the sediment helped in reconstruction of the site’s structure.


Micromorphology Post-holes Combustion features Ovicaprine stabling Sedimentary crust Neolithic 



The authors would like to thank the city administration of Manfredonia for assistance and funding. We are grateful to our collaborators in this research, including Ernestine Elster (UCLA), Stefano Nicolini and Nicola Leone. The helpful comments of three anonymous referees considerably improved this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth, Environment and Life Science (DISTAV)University of GenoaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto Italiano per Archeologia SperimentaleGenoaItaly
  3. 3.Museo di Archeologia Ligure, Villa Durazzo-PallaviciniGenoaItaly
  4. 4.Department of ArchaeologyCambridge UniversityCambridgeUK
  5. 5.Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per le Province di Barletta-Andria-Trani e FoggiaFoggiaItaly
  6. 6.Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Liguria, Polo Museale della LiguriaGenoaItaly

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