The analysis of geological patterns has become a focus of research in European Palaeolithic archaeology in order to identify strategies in raw-material procurement and to interpret past technical behaviour. The reconstruction of past geological landscapes enables the correlation of archaeological assemblages with raw-material provenance and large-scale transport patterns. The evidence for procurement strategies and the patterns of raw-material exploitation and transport have been used to assess mobility and cognitive abilities among Palaeolithic groups, revealing differing strategies between Middle and Upper Palaeolithic hunter gatherers. While Neanderthals seem to have organised their technology in a local or semi-local territory, modern humans have shown a more intense exploitation of distant sources. This scenario has been challenged over the last few years. Several studies have highlighted more complex environmental exploitation by Neanderthals through the catchment of distant lithic resources. The universities of Florence and Siena are engaged in a long-term project of geological survey that aims to identify lithic sources used during the Palaeolithic. Geological research has been carried out in parallel with technological analysis of archaeological lithic assemblages from the Mousterian layers of Grotta del Cavallo (Apulia, south-east Italy) and the Upper Palaeolithic layers of Grotta del Romito (Campania, south-west Italy). The project aims to answer specific questions regarding raw-material procurement: is it possible to predict human behaviour based on the distance between the settlement and the raw-material source? How did raw materials influence the variability of lithic assemblages? And, with regard to this latter question, which strategies were applied by hunter-gatherers regarding the use of the landscape and the available resources found within it? The integrated analysis of archaeological finds and ancient geological landscapes enables us to develop a complex scenario in which the rigid definition of the knapping concept and the economic strategies (e.g. curated and expedient behaviour) seems to be more strictly related to cultural constraints (shared knowledge, technical innovations and social and economic organisation) than to geophysical ones. We present here the methodology of geo-archaeological surveys and the preliminary results obtained for production sequences and procurement strategies at Grotta del Cavallo during the Middle Palaeolithic. At Grotta del Cavallo it could be evidenced that the human groups had great high mobility, which exceeded 50 km. Differences in techno-economy throughout the stratigraphical sequence of this site suggest that human strategies were influenced by several factors, including site use, demographic patterns and technical tradition, which generated various methods of adaptation to the available resources. The future implementation of this line of research, the integration of subsistence strategies and climate change analyses with that of stone tool assemblages and mobility, will make it possible to understand human behaviour and to explain the considerable variability of the archaeological record.
|Titolo:||Raw material procurement and productive sequences in the Paleolithic of southern Italy: the Tyrrhenian and Ionian areas|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||2.1 Contributo in volume (Capitolo o Saggio)|
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