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Excavations at the Pino Cave
Pino Cave was discovered accidentally in 1994 during building work carried out
at the bottom of the southern slopes of the Cozzo dell’Uovo in the Vallo di
Diano (Sassano), and is currently being excavated by the Superintendency of
Antiquities of Salerno in collaboration with the University of Naples
"Federico II". The original entrance has practically been completely
obliterated by a modem building; it must have consisted of a small vertical
shaft opened in the limestone rock that had been fractured by the collapse of
the roof of an underlying cave. At the bottom of this shaft a debris cone, some
10 m high and with a base diameter of about 20 m, fills most of the cave, except
for the eastern area, which is topographically lower and further from the
entrance. Here the cave extends for about 20 m, the roof is lower and the walls
progressively until it soon becomes too narrow to move in. The Pino Cave was
used as a funerary cave during the Early and Middle Bronze Age (Protoapennine B
phase), between about the 24th and the 15th century B.C.
Short, sporadic occupations in historical times have been dated to around the
mid 7th century B.C. on the basis of a dragon fibula and two spindle whorls.
Several dozen burials have been found in the central area of the cave, or in
other more inaccessible areas. The majority of the skeletons are no longer in
anatomical connection; together with grave goods they have systematically been
shifted to make room for later depositions. On top of them, in one of the
hitherto more completely explored parts of the cave, it has been possible to
identify the skeleton of a roe deer laid, probably as a final ritual offering,
after the final rearrangement of the burials.
Only one burial of one anatomically connected individual, beside whom a kid had been sacrificed, has been found beneath a narrow fissure in the wall at the bottom of the cave. The earlier phases of the utilization of the cave are characterized by a coarse ware with a typical ‘rusticated’ surface and by more refined hemispherical bowls with rich incised decoration that may be linked to the Laterza facies common in Puglia and Calabria, for which however massive documentation now exists also along the middle Tyrrhenian Sea side. The most intense occupation dates to the initial and advanced periods of the Middle Bronze Age, defined in the southern area with the term of Protoapennine (1 7th- l5th century B.C.), while for the time being no elements of the final phase of the period (Apennine) have so far been found. It is actually possible to ascribe to the Protoapennine the majority of the pottery types discovered so far, including carinated bowls and cups with their characteristic horizontal cylinder, notched, ax, trumpet and vertical handles, as well as numerous fragments of sherds decorated with relief cordons with complex motifs. All the sherds display strong relations with the production of the Tufariello Middle Bronze Age village and with the pottery from the Cardini Cave at Praia a Mare.
A bronze axe and a bronze pendant were found in two different areas of the excavation. Also belonging to the same phase are fragments of a fine well depurated pottery, in some cases decorated with geometric brown painted motifs, of Aegean Mesohelladic origin, the production of which lasted from the early Mycenaean period (Mycenaean I - II) dated to the 16th – 15th century B.C.