Grotta di Castelcivita (Campania, Southern Italy) is a cave-site containing a key archaeological sequence for the study of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Southern Italy. A Late Mousterian occupation, whose modelled dates span from 47.6 to 41.1 ka cal BP, is followed by layers bearing evidence of the Uluzzian techno-complex, which underlie an articulated Protoaurignacian sequence. The prehistoric deposit is sealed by volcanic sediments attributed to the Campanian Ignimbrite (dated to 39.85 ± 0.14 ka BP), which represent a terminus ante quem for the Palaeolithic occupation of the cave. We present here the study of the avifauna collected during the excavations carried out at Castelcivita by the University of Siena in the years 1975–88. The examined sample is composed of 631 specimens, out of which 486 have been identified according to species, genus, family or order. Bird remains belong to 36 species and at least to 175 individuals. In the Late Mousterian the abundance of species adapted to open environments indicates a cool-temperate climate; water birds, and wood and forest birds are present as well. During the Uluzzian a shift towards colder climatic conditions is testified by the increase in steppe grassland species. In the Protoaurignacian the presence of birds of open and dry environments is more marked, even if climate seems to shift toward milder conditions at the end of this phase. Taphonomic analyses have provided significant evidence for the exploitation of birds by humans across the whole sequence. Clues of human activity on bird remains are attested both in the Mousterian and, more rarely, in the Protoaurignacian by traces, possibly indicating the intentional removal of feathers (in the Mousterian) and other kinds of carcass manipulation. The Uluzzian sample is the richest in human modifications. Some of them are related to an interest for feathers (on Pyrrhocorax graculus, Falco subbuteo and an Accipitriformes of large size). Other modifications (fresh bone fractures, burnt bones, peeling, arrachement) testify to carcass treatments of Galliformes, Anseriformes, Columbiformes, Charadriiformes and Passeriformes. In the Protoaurignacian traces due to anthropogenic activity are rare and there is an increase in bone modifications caused by carnivores. Results allow us to assume that at Castelcivita humans consistently hunted birds for several purposes and exploited (especially during the Uluzzian) some species to acquire an exclusive and ethnographically well-documented resource such as feathers.

Fiore, I., Gala, M., Boschin, F., Crezzini, J., Tagliacozzo, A., Moroni, A. (2020). Archeozoology and taphonomy of bird remains from Grotta di Castelcivita (Salerno, Italy) and clues for human-bird interactions. QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL, 551, 224-242 [10.1016/j.quaint.2019.09.004].

Archeozoology and taphonomy of bird remains from Grotta di Castelcivita (Salerno, Italy) and clues for human-bird interactions

Boschin, F.;Crezzini, J.;Moroni, A.
2020-01-01

Abstract

Grotta di Castelcivita (Campania, Southern Italy) is a cave-site containing a key archaeological sequence for the study of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Southern Italy. A Late Mousterian occupation, whose modelled dates span from 47.6 to 41.1 ka cal BP, is followed by layers bearing evidence of the Uluzzian techno-complex, which underlie an articulated Protoaurignacian sequence. The prehistoric deposit is sealed by volcanic sediments attributed to the Campanian Ignimbrite (dated to 39.85 ± 0.14 ka BP), which represent a terminus ante quem for the Palaeolithic occupation of the cave. We present here the study of the avifauna collected during the excavations carried out at Castelcivita by the University of Siena in the years 1975–88. The examined sample is composed of 631 specimens, out of which 486 have been identified according to species, genus, family or order. Bird remains belong to 36 species and at least to 175 individuals. In the Late Mousterian the abundance of species adapted to open environments indicates a cool-temperate climate; water birds, and wood and forest birds are present as well. During the Uluzzian a shift towards colder climatic conditions is testified by the increase in steppe grassland species. In the Protoaurignacian the presence of birds of open and dry environments is more marked, even if climate seems to shift toward milder conditions at the end of this phase. Taphonomic analyses have provided significant evidence for the exploitation of birds by humans across the whole sequence. Clues of human activity on bird remains are attested both in the Mousterian and, more rarely, in the Protoaurignacian by traces, possibly indicating the intentional removal of feathers (in the Mousterian) and other kinds of carcass manipulation. The Uluzzian sample is the richest in human modifications. Some of them are related to an interest for feathers (on Pyrrhocorax graculus, Falco subbuteo and an Accipitriformes of large size). Other modifications (fresh bone fractures, burnt bones, peeling, arrachement) testify to carcass treatments of Galliformes, Anseriformes, Columbiformes, Charadriiformes and Passeriformes. In the Protoaurignacian traces due to anthropogenic activity are rare and there is an increase in bone modifications caused by carnivores. Results allow us to assume that at Castelcivita humans consistently hunted birds for several purposes and exploited (especially during the Uluzzian) some species to acquire an exclusive and ethnographically well-documented resource such as feathers.
Fiore, I., Gala, M., Boschin, F., Crezzini, J., Tagliacozzo, A., Moroni, A. (2020). Archeozoology and taphonomy of bird remains from Grotta di Castelcivita (Salerno, Italy) and clues for human-bird interactions. QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL, 551, 224-242 [10.1016/j.quaint.2019.09.004].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11365/1120719