Origin and diet of the prehistoric hunter-gatherers on the Mediterranean island of Favignana (Egadi Islands, Sicily)

Luca Sineo, Giulio Catalano, Rosaria Di Salvo, Vittoria Schimmenti, Giovanni Mannino, Michael P. Richards, Carles Lalueza-Fox, David Caramelli, Marcello A. Mannino, Sahra Talamo, Andrea Dario Messina, Daria Petruso

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53 Citazioni (Scopus)

Abstract

Hunter-gatherers living in Europe during the transition from the late Pleistocene to the Holocene intensified foodacquisition by broadening the range of resources exploited to include marine taxa. However, little is known on the nature ofthis dietary change in the Mediterranean Basin. A key area to investigate this issue is the archipelago of the E`gadi Islands,most of which were connected to Sicily until the early Holocene. The site of Grotta d’Oriente, on the present-day island ofFavignana, was occupied by hunter-gatherers when Postglacial environmental changes were taking place (14,000-7,500 calBP). Here we present the results of AMS radiocarbon dating, palaeogenetic and isotopic analyses undertaken on skeletalremains of the humans buried at Grotta d’Oriente. Analyses of the mitochondrial hypervariable first region of individualOriente B, which belongs to the HV-1 haplogroup, suggest for the first time on genetic grounds that humans living in Sicilyduring the early Holocene could have originated from groups that migrated from the Italian Peninsula around the LastGlacial Maximum. Carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses show that the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic hunter-gatherersof Favignana consumed almost exclusively protein from terrestrial game and that there was only a slight increase in marinefood consumption from the late Pleistocene to the early Holocene. This dietary change was similar in scale to that at sites onmainland Sicily and in the rest of the Mediterranean, suggesting that the hunter-gatherers of Grotta d’Oriente did notmodify their subsistence strategies specifically to adapt to the progressive isolation of Favignana. The limited developmentof technologies for intensively exploiting marine resources was probably a consequence both of Mediterranean oligotrophyand of the small effective population size of these increasingly isolated human groups, which made innovation less likelyand prevented transmission of fitness-enhancing adaptations.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine0
RivistaPLoS One
Volume7
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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  • ???subjectarea.asjc.1100.1100???
  • General

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