A rare clay figurine found in an Italian cave sheds light on Neolithic rituals

Archaeologists from the Sapienza University of Rome have made an unusual find in the Battifratta cave, located near Poggio Nativo in the Sabina region of Lazio. They found a clay figurine with pronounced female features, dating back to about 7000 years ago to the Neolithic era. This find is very important because such objects are extremely rare in Italy and virtually absent from the archaeological record of the Tyrrhenian slope.

The Battifratta Cave, located in Casali in the municipality of Poggio Nativo, is known for its complex labyrinthine configurations decorated with stalagmites and stalactites. At the entrance to the cave is a spring that played an important role in the life of the first people. The cave served as shelter and protection for communities that at that time practiced hunting, gathering and simple agriculture.

The discovery of the figurine is part of a large project carried out by the Sapienza Large Excavations Foundation to study the prehistoric settlement of the Farfa Valley and its surrounding areas. Current research is focused on analyzing the technological and stylistic aspects of the doll to gain insight into the process of its manufacture.

Although the figurine’s facial features are only vaguely represented, the craftsmen who created it demonstrated meticulous attention to detail in depicting the hairstyle and body adornments. Dr. Cecilia Conati of the University of Sapienza believes that when combined with faunal and botanical findings at different levels of stratification, as well as the discovery of a human skeleton next to the doll, the presence of pottery reveals intriguing secrets about the cave’s past. It is suggested that the spring at the entrance to the cave served not only for water supply, but also for funerary and ritual purposes.

The existence of the clay doll suggests that ancient rituals were performed in the Battifratta cave. Its ritual use is also supported by its uniqueness and the rarity of such artifacts in the region. This find opens up new possibilities for studying the religious and cultural practices of Neolithic communities in Italy.

According to Dr. Cecilia Conati, “The discovery of this rare clay figurine in Battifratta Cave gives us a glimpse into the rituals and beliefs of our Neolithic ancestors. It emphasizes the importance of this cave as a sacred site and provides valuable insights into the cultural heritage of the region.”

This groundbreaking find has sparked great interest among archaeologists and historians who hope to unravel new mysteries related to the ancient inhabitants of Italy. Ongoing interdisciplinary research at Battifratta Cave promises to shed light on the technological, artistic and symbolic aspects of this remarkable clay figurine.

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