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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter highlights the importance of caves as places for the performance of rituals and the expression of religious ideas in the Central Mediterranean Neolithic. Although a distinctive and widespread ‘underground religion’ and ‘cave cult’ can arguably be recognized here, the diversity of caves and of the material residues of cave rituals over space and time should not be underestimated. This diversity is illustrated here by the archaeology of Neolithic caves and related open sites in three contrasting regions: Abruzzo in east central Italy, Puglia in south-east Italy, and Malta to the south. This chapter also emphasizes the cultural selection and modification of caves into special places, and their combined marginality and connectivity to broader Neolithic lifeways.

Keywords: Neolithic, caves, ritual performance, special deposits, human remains, artefacts

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