Four excavation campaigns at La Sassa cave by the University of Groningen and Roma Tor Vergata took place starting from 2016. A fifth campaign is planned for the summer of 2020. In the cave, a Copper Age burial place has been found in Room 2. A large amount of human bones (NMI, 8.) were scattered into the branch together with some canis lupus bones and few potsherds. The human bones were not in anatomical connection. A femur was radiocarbon dated to 4000±35 BP (2619-2462 calBC). Other human bones were found in Room 1 (Saggio Lella), below a Middle Bronze Age layer. Protoappenninic potsherds (MBA1-2) were collected in Rooms 1-4. They likely refers to cultual habits, as already observed in other near caves (Alessandri, Rolfo 2016). A set of nalytical tecniques on the human bones are in progress: radiocarbon (chronology), strontium isotopes (provenance), nitrogen and carbon (diet), DNA (sex and genomics).
Late pleistocene fauna was found in Rooms 1, 3 and 6. An almost complete bear skeleton (Ursus arctos) has been recovered in Room 6. A humerus have been radiocarbon dated to 30210±180 BP (32547-32022 calBC).
A first 3D scan of the cave was made with the kind collaboration of C. Tamburri. The tridimensional data are now collected in collaboration with the University of Naples Parthenope and the University of Rome La Sapienza.
Video – the entrance
University of Tor Vergata (F. De Angelis) – N, C, DNA analyses
Istituto Nazionale Geofisica e Vulcanologia (M. Di Vito, I. Arienzo) – Sr isotope analysis
Oxford University (C. Capelli) – DNA analysis
University of Rome La Sapienza (V. Baiocchi) – 3D scan and geography
Tamburri S.r.l – 3D scan
The excavation is funded by the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO), the Groningen Institute of Archaeology and the University of Rome Tor Vergata.
We wish to acknowledge the mayor of Sonnino, Luciano De Angelis, and the municipal councilors Gianni Carroccia and Gianni Celani for their support. We are also grateful to the landowners, Mariano and Marilena Manicone and Massimo Manicone, who kindly gave us the permit to enter their field.