Report of an archaic human skeleton discovered at altamura (Bari), in the “Lamalunga” district


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Human Evolution

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The circumstances of the discovery and the first morphological observations concerning an, archaic human skeleton found in Altamura (Bari), in the “Lamalunga” district are reported. The observations were made by anthropologists from Bari University, at the site of the discovery, in a cave (Le Solange cave), a few days after they were first spotted by speleologists from the Speleological Research Center of Altamura (C.A.R.S.) and from the “Vespertilio” group of the Italian Alpine Club (C.A.I.) of Bari. The human remains were found in a corner of a small cavity in close association with columnar stalagmitic formations. All the bones are partly covered with, or embedded in, calcareous concretion while others are visible but lined with a calcareous shell of varying thickness. It is possible to recognize the skull (lying on its back); part of the face is apparent including the orbits and all the frontal region. On the ground, very close to the skull, there are many postcranial bones, but not all immediately recognizable because of the concretions. Immediately in front of and below the frontal are the tworadii; between these and a femoral shaft is the complete, but inverted, mandible. Bothfemora, thetibiae and thefibulae are present. Furthermore, the righthumerus, the distal epiphysis of an ulna and some costal elements are recognizable. The elements furthest from thecranium appear to be the innominate bones, partly covered with calcitic crust. Inside the pelvis are heavily, concreted pieces of bone among which are a costal element and a vertebral body. From the general robusticity of the bones and the rather high and narrow iliac fossa, the skeleton can be judged that of an adult male. Considering the presence on thecranium at the same time of both progressive and ancient features the Altamura specimen can be placed in the group of fossils of the European mid-Pleistocene characterized by the presence of archaic morphological traits and by a progressive increase in Neanderthal traits.

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