The Grotta Grande of Scario (Salerno, Italy): Archaeology and environment duringthe last interglacial (MIS 5) of the Mediterranean region

Federico Masini, Paola Torri, Paolo Boscato, Annamaria Ronchitelli, Carla Alberta Accorsi, Daria Petruso, Giovanni Surdi

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18 Citazioni (Scopus)


Archeological and paleo-environmental researches carried on the Grotta Grande site illustrate the importance of a multidisciplinary approach among archeologists, palynologists and paleontologists. The archaeology, fauna, pollen and micro-charcoal recovered in two short sedimentary successions (trenchesA, F) located close to the entrance of the cave are discussed. The cave opens directly on the Tyrrhenian Sea, 2 km from Scario (Salerno, Campania, Southern Italy). The morphology of the cave and sedimentaryprocesses were controlled by eustatic fluctuations during the late Middle Pleistocene and the early Late Pleistocene. The sea repeatedly occupied the cave. The cave was frequented by humans of MiddlePalaeolithic culture. Archaeological and faunal record of the two trenches can be positioned within the climatic fluctuation posterior to the warm interglacial MIS 5e peak. Pollen have been retrieved in theolder series (bec) of trench A, referable to MIS 7e6. The most important archaeological finds are the occurrence of structures that indicate the living space (trench F) together with hearths and lithic industry. The latter is characterised by the presence of the Levallois system and by the prevalence of sidescrapers among tools. The systematic use of limestone isobserved only in trench F. Large and small mammal remains recovered within the two trenches show that in the neighbourhoodof the site, a diversified assemblage occurred, including eleven large mammals, among which the hippo, the straight tusked elephant and the narrow-nosed rhino are noteworthy, and fourteen small mammal taxa, mainly rodents, with a significant amount of glirids. The fauna is indicative of a temperate, forested Mediterranean environment. Variation of faunal composition suggests that environments underwent some minor fluctuations towards cooler and/or drier landscapes. Pollen indicates vegetation organized in different belts, mainly Mediterranean evergreen forest/maquis and mixed forest with conifers and deciduous broadleaved trees. Fresh water plant communities are mainly represented in trench A. Some records of “Tertiary taxa” suggest stands of survival of these plants in the surroundings of the cave. Over the time span, the landscape become more open, due to some episodes of steppe vegetation spread caused by variation in temperature and humidity. Deposit of this age are rather uncommon even in the Italian peninsula, and therefore the integration of sedimentological, archaeological, faunal and palynological data provides an important piece of information to the puzzling reconstruction of the Late Pleistocene Mediterranean environments before the onset of the glaciation.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)95-109
Numero di pagine15
RivistaQuaternary International
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2011

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