Skip to comments.Ancient Tombs Reveal Bronze Age Civilization
Posted on 10/07/2003 4:32:25 PM PDT by blam
Ancient Tombs Reveal Bronze Age Civilization
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Cinerary Vase And Tomb
Oct. 6, 2003 Archaeologists could soon unveil the social structure of a mysterious Bronze Age civilization from northern Italy, according to ongoing anthropological and archaeological research.
The study centers on a large necropolis discovered in the Casinalbo village near Modena. Dating between 1500 and 1200 B.C., it consisted of more than 2,000 tombs belonging to the people of the "terramare" prehistoric flat-topped mounds left by a Bronze Age pile-dwelling settlement built on dry land.
"No necropolis of this size and age has been found south of the River Po. So far we have brought to light about 400 tombs. They are cremation tombs and contain cinerary vases, often decorated with geometric patterns," project director Andrea Cardarelli, professor of prehistory and proto-history at Modena University, told Discovery News.
Scattered in the Po valley and used in the 18th century as a source for compost and often destroyed, the terramare mounds only recently have been systematically studied to reveal the site's well-organized civilization.
With their large, numerous, well-planned and densely populated villages surrounded by artificial channels, the people of the terramare colonized the once inhospitable Po valley. Through an intense use of natural resources which in the end may have caused their collapse, they produced the first artificial landscape in northern Italy.
Although it was first identified at the end of the 19th century, the Casinalbo necropolis has not been fully investigated until now. This "city of the deaths" was laid out in different sections containing a number between 10 to 80 tombs, probably organized following family ties.
"It is interesting that the tombs did not contain arms [weapons] but only female objects, mainly bronze items such as brooches and pendants. We found arms gathered in another area of the cemetery. They had been burned and broken, probably in a funerary ritual," Cardarelli said.
Despite the precariously preserved cremated bones, Cardarelli has begun an anthropological study which in the following months should reveal not only the sex and age of the buried people but thanks to specific chemical signals (isotopic values) in bones their diet.
"It is an interesting project. This cemetery is important because female tombs will help us understand how the terramare society was organized," said Mark Pearce, from the University of Nottingham, U.K. and a leading expert on this civilization.
"If Cardarelli can show that the cemetery includes both rich and poor female tombs, he will provide evidence for a complex, stratified society," Pearce told Discovery News.
Possibly related. Otzi (The Iceman) was older than these folks by as much as a thousand years. The copper axe found with him moved the 'copper age' back by 1,000 years and also brought the origin of acupuncture into question again.
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