VN-18 bone point

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Classification: bone
Archaeological type: bone point
Material: bone
Size: length: 12.7 cm, width: 1.2 cm, height: 6 mm
Condition: complete
Date: 2nd half of the 2nd–1st centuries BC
Date derived from: archaeological context

Site: Schluderns / Sluderno (Bozen / Bolzano, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy)
Field name: Ganglegg
Archaeological context: settlement, house M
Coordinates (approx.): 46° 39' 50.40" N, 10° 35' 6.00" E [from site]
Find date: 1997
Find circumstances: excavation (Gamper and Steiner)
Current location: Vintschger Museum / Museo della Val Venosta (on exhibition)
Inventory Nr.: G 97/207a

Inscription: VN-18 (ḳ?e)

Sources: Steiner & Gamper 1999: pl. 9.7
Gamper 2006: 134–137, fig. 73.3



Bone point.
Animal bone, not further classified. Complete. Bone rod divided into an elongated section with a flat, long-oval and edged cross section and a lanceolate part; perforated. From whitish to beige in colour; smoothed.
The above-mentioned dimensions result of the autopsy by the Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum.
At the end, along the elongated section characters from right to left composed by the two characters E sK s. To be compared with the characters of another bone point from the Ganglegg hill.
The bone point was found in house M during the excavations 1997 effected by Peter Gamper and Hubert Steiner. House M is situated in the central area of the eastern spread of the settlement (sector 1; cp. the map of the Raetic settlement on the Ganglegg hill in Gamper 2006: fig. 42; more detailed fig. 71). House M indicates like the houses D1', H, G/G' 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. Like house G' also house M does not indicate destruction traces. The entire house was filled with a layer composed by fire debris and other material like wooden beams, rubbles, boulder clay and cereal packets. The fill layer was covered with a compact clay layer. Therefore the house was abandoned intentionally by a ritual act. The inscribed bone point was found on the ground of the house where the bone object was placed directly and then covered with the fill layer. Consequently the deposition occured as part of the ritual abandonment of the house. In the fill layer were found different metal fragments, corroded iron fragments, the fragment of a iron key type Sanzeno (cp. Gamper 2006: fig. 73.6) and three fragments of a glass bangle (cp. Gamper 2006: fig. 73.7–9).
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 M it can be stated that the house type represents the eldest construction type of the late La Tène period. 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-16 bone point) as well as a large number of bone points with incised signs of which the interpretation is uncertain. 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.