VN-16 bone point

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Classification: bone
Archaeological type: bone point
Material: bone
Size: length: 9.5 cm, width: 1.3 cm, height: 6.5 mm
Condition: fragmentary
Date: last decade of the 2nd–1st centuries BC
Date derived from: archaeological context, natural science

Site: Schluderns / Sluderno (Bozen / Bolzano, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy)
Field name: Ganglegg
Archaeological context: settlement, house G'
Coordinates (approx.): 46° 39' 50.40" N, 10° 35' 6.00" E [from site]
Find date: 2001
Find circumstances: excavation (Gamper and Steiner)
Current location: Vintschger Museum / Museo della Val Venosta (on exhibition)
Inventory Nr.: G 2001.211

Inscription: VN-16 (?aris)

Sources: Gamper 2006: 125–129, fig. 63.13



Bone point.
Animal bone, not further classified. Fragment of a bone point. The preserved fragment presents the lanceolate part with remains of a perforation. The elongated section is missing. From light to medium brown in colour; smoothed. On the front side, in particular near to the perforation, as well as on the back side calcined.
The above-mentioned dimensions result of the autopsy by the Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum.
From the perforation in direction to the top an inscription from right to left where the reading of the first part is uncertain. In any case, the last four characters S dI sR2 sA5 s (-aris) are well legible.
The fragmentary bone point was found in the corridor of the house G' during the excavation 2001 effected by Peter Gamper and Hubert Steiner. House G' is the second construction phase over house G which is located southwest of the entrance area of the the fortified wall (sector 4; cp. the map of the Raetic settlement on the Ganglegg hill in Gamper 2006: fig. 42; more detailed fig. 49). House G indicates like the houses D1', H, M and O a house type with high walls and angled entrance. This house type denotes the eldest house type of the late La Tène period on the Ganglegg hill. The entire house G', meaning the basement and the first floor, does not indicate destruction traces. On the contrary the wooden interior architecture was systematically removed and then the basement was filled with a two-meter high layer. Therefore the house was abandoned intentionally by a ritual act. In the area of the corridor were found on the ground and covered with the fill layer a black and yellow striped glass bead (cp. Gamper 2006: fig. 63.6) and a bottom fragment of a bronze vessel probably a beaker type Idria (cp. Gamper 2006: fig. 63.4). Moreover it was found a burial of a neonate infant. The grave was placed directly on the ground and covered with the fill layer. Consequently the burial occured as part of the ritual abandonment of the house. In the fill layer were found different metal fragments, pottery, the fragment of a glass bangle and bone objects. Among the latter two are inscribed: the present fragmentary bone point and EX-17:

The object EX-17 bone point is also kept in the Vintschger Museum / Museo della Val Venosta with inventory number G 2001.209 (cp. Gamper 2006: fig. 63.12).
Like all the findings on the Ganglegg hill the bone point dates to the period from the 3rd to the 1st centuries BC (cp. Gamper & Steiner 1999: 50–51). Concerning the age determination of house G and G' it can be stated that the house type represents the eldest construction type of the late La Tène period. The detailed analysis of the features resulted an absolute-chronological dating to the last decade of the 2nd century BC concerning the beginning of the expansion of the settlement (cp. Gamper 2006: 114; "(...) kann somit der Beginn des latènezeitlichen Ausbaus des Gangleggs zur befestigten Höhensiedlung um 109/104 v. Chr. gerechnet werden."). In the course of the 1st century BC the settlement on the Ganglegg hill was systematically abandoned (cp. Gamper & Steiner 1999: 53).
The present bone point must be connected with the secondary function of bone points. In the area of the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture bone points were deposited in the soil layer or in the fill layer on occasion of the ritual foundation or abandonment of houses. The ritual deposition of bone points during the abandonment of the house is well-attested on the Ganglegg hill. Related to several houses resp. rooms the ritual use of the bone points is proved here (cp. Gamper 2006: fig. 45). This ritual function can be supposed for the late La Tène period in the entire region of the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture (cp. Gamper 2006: 145). Also during the excavations in Trissino examples for bone points used in this ritual context came to light (cp. Colle di Castello; Lora & Ruta Serafini 1992: 262). Furthermore the dissemination of bone points includes the areas along the Adige Valley (Etschtal / Val d'Adige) to the Valpolicella region (cp. map 29 in Gamper 2006: 143). Inscribed bone points appear in the settlements among others of Sanzeno and Montesei di Serso. These settlements date to middle and late La Tène period. However there are other bone points e.g. from Monte Ozol which date already to the late Hallstatt period. But these objects are neither inscribed nor decorated and the dimension of these is larger than of those which date to later periods. The function of these bone points are uncertain. It can be suggested that they were used in handcraft sector or that they were part of the attire. Related to this insecurity Gamper indicates these objects on one side as bone points (Knochenspitze), otherwise he uses also the term needle (Nadel) (cp. Gamper 2006: 145). Also in occasion of the ritual house foundation bones and bone points were dedicated (cp. San Giorgio di Valpolicella, Casaletti; Sanzeno, Paternoster).
On the Ganglegg hill were discovered several inscribed bone points (cp. in the Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum: VN-9 bone point, VN-11 bone point, VN-12 bone point and VN-18 bone point) as well as a large number of bone points with incised signs of which the interpretation is uncertain. Among these the bone point listed with EX-17 which was found together with present bone point in the fill layer. Probably these incisions present decorations, numbers or the like (cp. the main chapter about the Non-script notational systems in the Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum:). Further examples of inscribed bone points derive from other find places (cp. in the Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum: NO-17 bone point and VR-17 bone point). Marchesini indicates SZ-48 bone as fragment of a further bone point (cp. Marchesini 2014: 138).
In the recently released study about the Raetic inscriptions by Marchesini the object is not incorporated.
Autopsied by the Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum in September 2014.



Gamper 2006 Peter Gamper, Die latènezeitliche Besiedlung am Ganglegg in Südtirol. Neue Forschungen zur Fritzens-Sanzeno-Kultur [= Internationale Archäologie 91], Rahden/Westfalen: Leidorf 2006.
Gamper & Steiner 1999 Peter Gamper, Hubert Steiner, Das Ganglegg bei Schluderns. Eine befestigte bronze- und eisenzeitliche Siedlung im oberen Vinschgau, Bozen: Athesia 1999.
Lora & Ruta Serafini 1992 Silvana Lora, Angela Ruta Serafini, "Il gruppo Magrè", in: Ingrid R. Metzger, Paul Gleirscher, Die Räter / I Reti [= Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Alpenländer, Neue Folge 4], Bozen: Athesia 1992, 247–272.
Marchesini 2014 Simona Marchesini, "Nuove iscrizioni retiche da Cles e Sanzeno (Trento)", in: Rosa Roncador, Franco Nicolis, Antichi popoli delle Alpi. Sviluppi culturali durante l'età del Ferro nei territori alpini centro-orientali (Atti della giornata internazionale di studi 1 maggio 2010 Sanzeno, Trento), Trento: Provincia autonoma di Trento. Soprintendenza per i beni architettonici e archeologici 2014, 127–144.