Grotta del Cavallo (Apulia-Southern Italy). The Uluzzian in the mirror


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Journal of Anthropological Sciences

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The Uluzzian techno-complex is commonly considered to be a “transitional industry” mostly on the basis of some inferred characteristics such as a chiefly flake-based production, a small amount of Upper Palaeolithic-like tools and a combination of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic elements both in the toolkit and in the technical systems. Following its discovery, the Uluzzian was identified as the Italian counterpart of the French Châtelperronian and attributed to Neandertals. However, a study issued in 2011 has established the modern character of the two deciduous teeth found in 1964 in the Uluzzian deposit of Grotta del Cavallo, fostering renewed interests to the Uluzzian culture, which real nature is almost unknown to the international scientific community. Here we provide preliminary results of the study on the lithic assemblage from the earliest Uluzzian layer and on backed pieces from the whole Uluzzian sequence of Grotta del Cavallo (Apulia, Italy), the type site of the Uluzzian. Moreover, besides a thorough review on the stratigraphy of Grotta del Cavallo (Supplementary Materials), we provide updated information on the human remains by presenting two unpublished teeth from the reworked deposit of the same cave. We conclude that the early Uluzzians demonstrate original technological behavior and innovations devoid of any features deriving or directly linked with the late Mousterian of Southern Italy. Therefore, the novelty nature of the Uluzzian techno-complex (with respect to the preceding Mousterian) complies with the recent reassessment of the two deciduous teeth from Grotta del Cavallo in suggesting an earliest migration of modern humans in southern Europe around 45,000 years ago.

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