Indices de fréquentation humaine dans les grottes à ours au Paléolithique moyen final: L’exemple de la Caverna Generosa dans les Préalpes lombardes, ItalieBear-caves with indexes of anthropic occurrences in the final Middle Palaeolithic: The case of Caverna Generosa in the Lombard Pre-Alps, Italy


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January 2007


Already known like a palaeontological site for the study of Ursus spelaeus, Caverna Generosa also records ephemeral traces of human visits during the late Middle Palaeolithic. The cave opens at an altitude of 1450 m on the steep southern slope of the Monte Generoso Massif between the Lugano and the Como lakes and forms a complex group of narrow galleries and inner chambers. Sedimentological and palaeontological data and radiocarbon dates place both the cave-bear and the human frequentations in the first part of the isotopic stage 3 with climatic conditions shifting from cool and dry to more temperate and wet. Environment progressively changed from scarcely arboreal to arboreal-brush with small open spaces. Few flakes and Levallois flakes have been recovered scattered in the sediment and affected in most cases by intense postdepositional alteration. These items testify incursions of mousterian groups equipped with end-products and radiolarite flakes struck from blocks provisioned at lower locations southwards. End-products, namely Levallois flakes, prove that lithic reduction sequences were spatiotemporally fractionated in the covered territory. Conversely, it cannot be excluded a priori that sublocal radiolarite has been chipped at the entrance of the cave or at the very close surroundings for extraction of rudimental tools for immediate use. It is worth to mention that the small chert slabs in the Moltrasio limestone which crop throughout the cave walls were totally ignored. Caverna Generosa can be viewed as a refugia-location used in function of more or less constrained factors strongly influenced by high-altitude and bioclimatic situations. This type of site might well be integrated within the seasonal movements of humans in the western Lombard Pre-Alps area.


Middle Paleolithic, Italian Alps, Lithic Assemblage, Human Occurrence

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L'Anthropologie, Vol. 111, no. 3 (2007).