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Excavation

  • Grotta di Cortomartino
  • Acquaviva delle Fonti, contrada Cortomartino
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    Credits

    • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

      MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

      ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

      AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

    • AIAC_logo logo

    Summary (English)

    • The grotto opens at 361 m a.s.l. in the Cretaeceous rudist-bearing limestone, on the plateau of the Murge in Apulia. It is situated in a central position between the north-western and south-eastern sides, in an area characterised by numerous small eroded gullies, in a well preserved landscape. The entrance is at 2.10 m below the present ground level, within a small depression, from which the cavern extends for a practicable length of circa 50 m.

      As part of a project to valorise the surrounding area, an archaeological investigation was undertaken outside on the terrace above the entrance to the north, and inside the cavern in the first cavity and the initial tract of the section leading to the main cave. It was here that Bari University undertook a first excavation campaign in 1969.

      The investigation outside revealed a layer in secondary deposition containing faunal remains and evidence of stone working datable to the late Epigravetian period. Inside the first cavity of the grotto was a stratified deposit, the excavated levels dating to the final phases of the upper Paleolithic period. A disturbed layer (US1) contained faunal remains associated with microlithic stone working attributable – thanks to the presence of numerous circular scrapers – to the final phases of the upper Paleolithic (late Epigravetian of the Romanelliana facies). This overlay a collapse (US3) which sealed a thin layer (US6) in situ, in which there was evidence of a hearth (US5).

      Below US6, in the steeply sloping section which turned to the right and joined the first cavity to the large cavern, a paleo-ground surface emerged. This was characterised by the presence of small limestone rocks – mixed with faunal remains and stone implements – placed closely together, the excavated extension of which covered an area of circa 8 m2. Up against the wall below a niche where a discontinuity in the terrain was observed, middle sized limestone blocks rested on the top of US7. A human premolar found among these blocks may indicate that the feature had a funerary function and the continuation of the investigation will attempt to clarify this.

      Lastly, the find of a complex of Paleolithic portable and wall art was of great interest. Composed of limestone rocks, bone supports and concretions, it mostly emerged above the layer and was contained within the disturbed deposit. There were incisions on these materials which on the basis of form can be placed within the artistic production typical of the final phases of the Paleolithic. The repertory, still being studied, includes mainly linear marks but there were also naturalistic figurations which represent the first evidence of figurative artistic objects found in the Murge area of Bari.

      It is plausible that the complex of incised marks identified on the walls dates to the same phase. A preliminary examination identified vertical linear marks that were parallel and sub-parallel, sometimes in pairs, found in particular on the back wall to the right of the main cavity and on a number of stalagmites in the same area.
      The elements documented during this recent work thus indicate this as a site of considerable potential within the sphere of research on the upper Paleolithic in the Murge of Bari.

    • Ebe Chiara Princigalli 

    Director

    • Francesca Radina - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Puglia

    Team

    • Gianluca Andreassi

    Research Body

    • Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Puglia

    Funding Body

    • Ca.Giu.Pa. Srl.

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