A funerary rite study of the Phoenician-Punic necropolis of Mount Sirai (Sardinia, Italy)

G. Piga, M. Guirguis, P. Bartoloni, A. Malgosa, S. Enzo

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A recent excavation in the Phoenician-Punic necropolis of Mount Sirai, located in the south-western part of Sardinia,tIhtaly, has brthought to light a number of tombs contextually attributed to a period from the early 6th to early 5th century BC, which is simultaneous with the beginning of the Carthago influence in Sardinia. Among the interred burials recently brought to light, the skeletal remains, sometimes of two superposed bodies, are found in a primary position and with fine anatomic connection. Some of the bones were visually stained, suggesting they were possibly subjected to fire treatment. In order to ascertain more objectively whether the bodies were subjected to burning, the bones from all the tombs were investigated by powder X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier Transform infra-red (FT-IR) spectroscopy techniques. After excluding the role of important diagenetic effects, from line broadening/sharpening analysis of hydroxylapatite in the bones according to the Rietveld method, it was evaluated that the bodies were probably subjected to a temperature regime from 300 to 700°C. These data were supplemented and confirmed by an analysis of the splitting factor (SF) of apatite phosphate peaks in the infra-red spectrum of the bones. Our results indicate the existence of a rite intermediate between incineratiothn and inhumation. This sort of 'semi-combustion', perhaps limited to the period of the early 5th century BC, appears to be peculiar just to this site. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-157
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


  • Burned bones
  • Funerary rite
  • Infra-red spectroscopy (FT-IR)
  • Phoenician-Punic necropolis
  • Powder X-ray diffraction (XRD)


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