Outside the box: the human remains of the Chalcolithic Hypogeum I of Monte do Carrascal 2 (Beja, Portugal)

Monte do Carrascal 2 was one of the most interesting burial sites discovered in Portugal recently. Here, two hypogea were dug revealing thousands of human bones. One, the Hypogeum I, is a particularly well-preserved Chalcolithic collective grave (2900-2400 cal. 2d B.C.). The fieldwork implied the total recovery of human remains (N=4679) followed by a strict archaeothanatological protocol allowing taphonomic factors and funerary practices characterization. Anthropological preliminary analysis in the field revealed the presence of 71 individuals: 22 non-adults, two young adults, and 47 adults. For those, sex diagnosis showed a large number of women (N=22) and individuals of undetermined sex (N=24). Only three men were identified. Ulterior DNA studies revealed that 6/8 non-adults analyzed were also females, calling the attention to a possible sexual selection of this grave. Having this in mind and the fact that the physical anthropological analyses during fieldwork were necessarily preliminary, this project aims to bring the material outside the box: study this collection to characterize demographic, morphological and pathological aspects of the population. Data regarding specific funerary behaviors like a possible sex selection of the deceased will also be discussed, being the anthropological classification crossed with DNA results. All data will be compared with coeval populations.

Duration: 2019-2020

Coordinator (PI): Maria João Neves (CIAS)

Financial support: AIA – Archaeological Institute of America (AIA’s Archaeology of Portugal Fellowship)