Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 1443–1459 | Cite as

Effect of Neolithic transition on an Italian community: Mora Cavorso (Jenne, Rome)

  • Gabriele Scorrano
  • Marica Baldoni
  • Mauro Brilli
  • Mario Federico Rolfo
  • Gino Fornaciari
  • Olga RickardsEmail author
  • Cristina Martínez-LabargaEmail author
Original Paper


The present research, an integrative study combining archeology, skeletal biology, and molecular anthropology, deals with skeletal remains recovered in Mora Cavorso Cave (Jenne, Rome, Italy). Burial activity there dates to 6275 ± 45 BP (5322–5084 cal.) and 6405 ± 35 BP (5472–5314 cal.), according to 14C analyses of a charcoal fragment and a human bone, respectively. This range of dates ascribes the human remains and the archeological materials to a late phase of the Early Neolithic of Central Italy. The human skeletal remains were scattered throughout the cave.

We performed morphological examinations and carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses—using bone collagen—to reconstruct the paleobiology and the paleodiet of the community. The complex comprised at least 28 individuals, including adult males and females and sub-adults. The skeletal remains exhibited a high degree of biomechanical stress and several cases of degenerative and infectious diseases; one of them showed a sclerosing mastoiditis.

The stable isotope analyses suggested a diet rich in terrestrial food sources in particular sheep and goat livestock. These results seem to point out that no dietary shift occurred during the Neolithic period in this community, suggesting the maximum use of the environmental resources that these early Neolithic had available. It is worth noting that two individuals showed high nitrogen values, likely the result of nutritional stress brought on by limited protein intake or metabolic diseases.


Skeletal biology Paleodiet Stable isotopes analysis Paleopathology FRUITS analysis 



The authors are grateful to Dr. M. Angle and Dr. A. Zarattini (Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio, Italy) for providing access to the skeletal remains from Mora Cavorso studied in this research. The authors thank Shaka Zulu Speleo Club Subiaco for the discovery of the Mora Cavorso Cave, R. Ciaffi and D. Passacantando for beginning the morphological study and removing the calcareous concretions for further analysis, Dr. G. Manenti and S. Greco for performing the CAT scan at Policlinico Tor Vergata, D. Leonardi for the scanning electron microscope (SEM) evaluation, Prof. G. Arcudi for his kind support during the anthropological examination, and Kenneth Britsch, Lindsey Anderson and Andrew Bolduc for their assistance with the English revision of the manuscript. Finally, we wish to thank the reviewers and editor for their constructive comments and suggestions.

Author contributions

C.M-L and O.R. designed the research; O.R. provided financial support, G.S, M.B., and C.M-L performed the analyses provided in the study; M.F.R. directed the excavation campaign; M.BR. performed the isotope analysis by mass spectrometry; G.F. collaborated in the paleopathological study; G.S., M.B., M.F.R., C.M-L, and O.R. wrote the paper, all the authors edited the manuscript for intellectual content, revised and provided critical comments on the manuscript.

Funding information

This work was supported by MIUR-PRIN: grants prot. 2008B4J2HS and 2010EL8TXP allotted to Olga Rickards.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Grant sponsorship

MIUR-PRIN numbers prot. 2008B4J2HS and 2010EL8TXP allotted to Olga Rickards.

Supplementary material

12520_2018_615_MOESM1_ESM.docx (119 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 119 kb)
12520_2018_615_Fig5_ESM.gif (106 kb)
Figure A1 SEM images of teeth affected by hypoplasia. (GIF 105 kb)
12520_2018_615_MOESM2_ESM.tif (304 kb)
High resolution image (TIFF 304 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro di Antropologia Molecolare per lo Studio del DNA Antico, Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversità degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”RomaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Geologia Ambientale e Geoingegneria, CNRMontelibrettiItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche, Filosofico-Sociali, dei Beni Culturali e del TerritorioUniversità degli Studi di Roma Tor VergataRomaItaly
  4. 4.Divisione di Paleopatologia, Dipartimento di Ricerca Traslazionale e delle Nuove Tecnologie in Medicina e ChirurgiaUniversità di PisaPisaItaly

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