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High-Resolution Archaeoenvironmental Study of a Cultic Episode at a Statue-Menhir Copper Age Site (Ossimo Anvòia, Italian Alps)

Emilia Allevato, Francesco Fedele, Filippo Terrasi, Manuela Capano, Gaetano Di Pasquale

Abstract


Nine excavation seasons at Ossimo Anvòia in the Val Camonica (Central Alps, Italy) have brought to light a Copper Age ceremonial area with symbolic monoliths (statue menhirs) in their original position. Hundreds of artifacts and ecofacts indicate ideological activity during the 3rd millennium BC. A large pit (F18) was discovered that was unusual for its great size and the abundance of well-preserved charcoal. The pit housed a fallen monolith (M9) showing complicated reshaping. A detailed spatial study based on 6 radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurements combined with charcoal analysis has untangled key information to define the history of feature F18-M9. 14C data show that the burning event occurred most probably in the 4th century AD, not in prehistory. We infer a unique episode of “reconsecration” during the very latest phases of pagan cult activity in the Val Camonica. Further studies are needed to resolve the relationships with other features of the site. In addition, charcoal analysis has produced paleobotanical information for a scarcely known period in the environmental history of the area. A sparse forest with Picea abies, Larix decidua, and Fagus sylvatica existed, associated with areas likely devoted to grazing. There is a remarkable absence of chestnut.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.v55i1.16063


Keywords


Val Camonica, Late Antiquity landscape, forests, AMS dating, charcoal analysis, cultic behaviour.

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