Morphological variability of Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic skulls from Sicily

Luca Sineo, Ron Pinhasi, Vitale Stefano Sparacello, Manon Galland, Giuseppe D’Amore, Martin Friess, Roberto Maria Micciche'

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1 Citazioni (Scopus)


Scenarios for the dispersal of Homo sapiens in Southern Europe and in the Mediterranean basin have been uncertain, given the scarceness of osteological samples and the simplicity of the proposed archaeologically-based settlement hypotheses. According to available data, the first anatomically modern humans entered Sicily during the Late Pleistocene, coming from the Italian peninsula. A presumably small Late Epigravettian population colonised coastal sites. Later, North-Western archaeological horizons gave hospitality to a significant Mesolithic expansion. In order to verify a hypothesis of continuity in the peopling of the island, we analyzed Sicilian skulls from the Late Epigravettian site of San Teodoro, Eastern Sicily (AMS 14C dated at 14,500 BP) and from the Mesolithic period (14C dated from 9,500 to 8,500 BP) coming from various sites (Uzzo, Molara, Grotta d’Oriente) located on the North Western coast of the island. The aims were to test the biological variability through time within the island as well as to evaluate the relationships of Sicilian Pleistocene hunter-gatherers with Old World populations. We also evaluated the Sicilian Mesolithic uniformity especially between the Uzzo and Grotta d’Oriente sites, given their vicinity and accessibility during the Early Holocene. We applied 3D geometric morphometric methods to assess shape variation as well as geographic and diachronic morphological patterns. All analyzed specimens, plus a comparative sample from the Old World dated from the Upper Paleolithic to recent periods, were transformed in digital images and standard craniofacial landmarks were extracted from the 3D models. Our results underline a high variability among the Mesolithic specimens, as well as a large craniometric distance from the presumed founder Paleolithic settler representatives (San Teodoro specimens) that have closer morphological affinities with other European Upper Paleolithic specimens.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)151-172
Numero di pagine22
RivistaJournal of Anthropological Sciences
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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