The 2013 investigation inside the grotto del Sambuco took place 22 years after excavations undertaken in the second half of the 1980s. These investigations concentrated on the historical levels and stopped at a hardened paleo-surface that emerged across the entire area, separating the earlier prehistoric levels. This surface was still visible, although partially damaged at the sides by clandestine occupation. Given the short length of this campaign, the excavation began in the eastern part of the trench, where a trial trench dug in 1981 had revealed a paleolithic hearth in the section.
The investigation, which made use of an instrument for the spatial location of finds, concentrated on only three quadrants (P15 and Q15 along section 1 and Q16), and revealed two different stratigraphic units: one post-paleolithic and heavily lacunose (US3B), overlying a paleolithic level (US4), that emerged extensively across all three quadrants.
The post-paleolithic layer, made up of a moderately compact dark grey clay sediment not easily distinguishable from the underlying US4, emerged in two patches, one of which very small and thin (c. 2-3 cm in depth) in quadrant P15, and a larger patch in quadrant Q16, up to 10 cm in depth. The layer contained rare charcoal flecks and only the occasional pottery fragment, including one with lines of toothed decoration, probably attributable to the bell-beaker horizon.
The paleolithic unit was also made up of dark grey clay sediment that was less compact than US3B. It was particularly rich in charcoal especially at the point of contact between quadrants Q15 and Q16, where in the past a trace of a hearth was seen in section 2. This unit produced, 85 lithic finds, mainly from quadrant Q15, both jasper and yellow-orange flint, distributed through the sediment and sometimes at the base of the unit. The types present were backs (PD,LD, fr. PD-LD), scrapers and points. The typology dates the artefacts to the Upper Paleolithic, in particular the late Epigravettian period.
The removal of the unit corresponding with the Paleolithic hearth revealed a new stratigraphic unit (US5) across all three quadrants, constituted by a yellowish sandy clay sediment, the roof of which was heavily modified by the erosive action of surface water.
- Mauro Calattini - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti, Sezione di Preistoria
- Studenti del Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche e dei Beni Culturali dell’Università di Siena e membri dell’Associazione Archeologica Piombinese (vedi Convenzione fra i due Enti).
- Università degli Studi di Siena
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