Grotta di Cala dei Santi or Grotta dei Santi (Monte Argentario – Grosseto – Tuscany) opens at the base of a high cliff directly onto the sea, 200 m N-NW from Punta dell’Avoltore, on the southeastern side of the Argentario Promontory. Nowadays the cave, whose entrance is located 4 m a.s.l., can be reached exclusively by boat. Only the rear two-thirds of the approximately 10 m thick deposit filling the vast cavity is still in situ as its fore-part was eroded and emptied by the Holocene marine ingression. If the position of the cave directly onto the sea has preserved the site from possible looters over the years, it nevertheless still represents a risk as waves continue to reach the base of the deposit during the strongest winter storms. Even though the presence of prehistoric artefacts at Grotta dei Santi had been reported since the mid 1800’s (Salvagnoli, Marchetti 1843; Nicolucci 1869) it is only in 1959 that the stratigraphy of the site was first described in detail by A.G. Segre (Segre 1959) after he had visited the cave in 1953. Present investigations at Grotta dei Santi, carried out by the University of Siena in collaboration with the Italian Institute of Human Palaeontology, the University of Pisa, the Brazilian Universities of São Paulo and Curitiba and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Lipzig – Germany), have been planned in agreement with the Soprintendenza Archeologia della Toscana after a number of on-the-spot inspections and stratigraphic tests between 2006 and 2007 (Freguglia et alii 2007). Except for sporadic occupations occurring during the Roman period at the top of the sequence, up to now the only evidence of the human presence in the cave belongs to the Middle Palaeolithic. The years from 2008 to 2013 were mainly devoted to the removing of the sediment covering the undisturbed deposit (Freguglia et alii 2008; Moroni Lanfredini et alii 2010). This work led to the discovery of several anthropic layers which can be grouped into three main macro-units. These layers are, in most cases, very thin living floors, bearing one or more fire-places, and are separated from each other by sterile sediment or by layers containing phosphatic concretions (coprolites) morphologically attributable to spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta spelaea) (Crezzini, Moroni 2012). Palynological analyses are ongoing on these coprolites from different layers. The analysis of faunal remains (micro and macro fauna) and the geological study allowed for a preliminary framing of the whole Mousterian sequence within the first part of MIS3. Such an attribution has been confirmed by a recent 14C date performed (at the Max Planck Institute) on charcoal collected in a fire-place from the lower horizon (Moroni et alii in preparation). On-going investigations have clearly highlighted the importance of this site in order to reconstruct paleoenvironmental aspects and peopling dynamics concerning last Neandertals in Central Italy before their demise. More complete data are available for the upper living floor (150A) of horizon 150. The taphonomic study of macrofaunal remains allowed for detecting traces connected to different steps of carcass butchering. The lithic assemblage has been analyzed through the technological and functional (use-wear traces) approaches. Outcomes resulting from these studies were inserted in a GIS platform, specially provided; this made it possible to identify different activity areas, also related with the fire-place. Given the eco-geographic position of Grotta dei Santi a direct comparison with the so-called Pontinian technocomplexes of Mount Circeo (Latium coast) immediately arises. However the lithic materials examined up to now seem to display blank production and transformation systems different from the Pontinian ones.
|Titolo:||The sea destroys, the sea preserves. New evidence on last Neandertals in Central Italy from Grotta di Cala dei Santi (Grosseto)|
SPAGNOLO, VINCENZO (Corresponding)
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.5 Abstract in rivista|
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