First evidence of vivianite in human bones from a third millennium BC Domus de Janas: Filigosa tomb 1, Macomer (NU), Sardinia

Consuelo Rodriguez*, Luigi Sanciu, Alfredo Idini, Dario Fancello, Clizia Murgia, Ilenia Atzori, Vittorio Mazzarello, M. Eulalia Subira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Sardinia is an island located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its position geologically acquired in the Middle Miocene (around 16 Ma ago), this island had a very strategic position in antiquity, as it was involved into all the trade routes that crossed the Mediterranean Sea; however, it developed original archaeological features up to the Iron Age. During the Final Neolithic, the Ozieri's Culture developed throughout the Sardinian territory, with diffusion of typically hypogea graves named Domus de Janas. The study was conducted inside the Domus de Janas at Filigosa necropolis, located on a tuffaceous hillside near the village of Macomer in the area of Marghine, Central-Western Sardinia. Tomb 1 dating back to the beginning of the third millennium BC had been excavated by Professor E. Contu in 1965 At the time of first excavation, this tomb showed very particular conditions that had enabled an excellent conservation of several osteological and wooden samples.

This paper focuses on the presence of vivianite deposits on human bones and its origin. For such a mineral to be formed an interaction between phosphate, iron and water has to occur. These findings can be considered the first evidence of such mineral in a Sardinian archaeological site, and one of the most ancient findings of this mineral in Italy, as well as the first evidence observed in prehistoric sites related to a period before the introduction of iron use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102918
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • AGE
  • Bones
  • Chalcolithic
  • Domus de Janas
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Sardinia
  • Vivianite


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