2.46 MB
Ana Cruz & Gabriele Luigi Francesco Berruti • español
Abstract. The Morgado Superior cave is a karst cave located in the municipality of Tomar (Santarém, Portugal). As other caves of the same area, it has provided stratigraphic data and votive deposits falling within the Holocene, more precisely in a diachronic time range that extends from the Neolithic to the early Bronze Age. In the Morgado Superior cave there are multiple burials with a few votive objects like jars, bone artefacts and lithic tools (blades, arrowheads etc.), beads, pendants, and other decorative items in association with more than 8,000 human bones: the number of the grave goods elements is low if compared with the number of individuals buried in the cave. Concerning the use-wear study, we analyzed the grave goods in order to understand both their meaning in this funerary context and their function in the economy of this prehistoric society. We focused on the most representative elements of the grave goods: arrowheads and knapped lithic artefacts. This study led us to understand that the majority of the grave goods were everyday objects but with a strong symbolic value. Since in the Morgado Superior Cave there are a lot of grave goods showing prior breaks, their symbolic value does not seem to be lost even if the objects were broken. Thus, the use-wear analysis of the grave goods from the Morgado Superior Cave allowed us to identify the strong symbolic value of these elements for that human community, but at the same time to hypothesize a funerary practice that did not provide a special respect for the body and the grave goods of those dead previously buried in the cave. For these reasons we hypothesize a progressive spoliation (probably ritual) of the previous grave goods. Through the use-wear study of the knapped lithic assemblage of the Morgado Superior Cave it was possible to reconstruct part of the ritual activities that were carried out in the site: the 90% of the lithic artefacts are used objects, all of the artefacts have been produced in another place and they were probably intentionally placed in the burials.
Keywords: Use-wear analysis, Grave goods, Chalcolithic, Cave.
Cruz, A. & G. L. F. Berruti. 2015. A use-wear analysis of the knapped lithic grave goods from Gruta do Morgado Superior (Tomar, Portugal). Arqueología Iberoamericana 28: 81-94.
Publication date: 31 December 2015.

About the authors
Gabriele Luigi Francesco Berruti has a Master’s degree in History from the University of Torino (2007) and a Master’s degree in Quaternary and Archaeology from the University of Ferrara (2009). He is currently a PhD student of the International Doctorate in Quaternary and Prehistory (IDQP) at the University of Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD). He specializes in use-wear analysis of the lithic industries. He is the president of the association 3P – Progetto Preistoria Piemonte for which he directs several research projects in collaboration with numerous Italian and foreign institutions. E-mail:
Ana Rosa Gomes Pinto da Cruz has a Master’s degree in History from the University of Lisbon (1982), a Master’s degree in Archaeology – Landscape and Management from the University of Minho (1996), and a PhD in Quaternary, Materials and Cultures from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (2011). Currently she is preparing her Post-Doc project on Mortuary Archaeology. She specializes in the transition process from hunting-gathering to the production system, and in the transition to the Bronze Age. She is Laboratory Head of the Prehistory Centre of the Polytechnic Institute of Tomar (Portugal). She is a member of the Geosciences Centre of the University of Coimbra. E-mail:

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