The “Grotte di Pertosa-Auletta” are a karst cavity complex located in Pertosa (Salerno, Italy), that opens in the Tanagro valley with a large entrance, about 15 m wide and 17 m high, oriented towards the west. The caves are a very important prehistoric site because they preserve the remains of a pile-dwelling village dating back to the II millennium BC. Different types of ceramic finds, coming from the so-called “antegrotta”, have been selected and submitted to chemical investigations, with the aim of verifying the possible presence of organic residues and identifying their nature. Both Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC–MS) and the Gas Chromatography/Combustion/Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (GC-C-IRMS) have been used to identify lipids absorbed by the ceramics and to formulate hypotheses about artefact uses and functions. Most of the finds have shown the presence of lipids of animal origin: these are mixtures of lipids of ruminant and non-ruminant animals, while in a single sample the isotopic analyses have identified the presence of dairy/milk products. Data shed light on the use and the human activities of the cavity of the “Grotte di Pertosa-Auletta” during the Bronze Age, and they constitute one of the few examples in Italy of chemical analysis applied to the ceramic residues of similar archaeological contexts.
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