Fasti Online Home | Switch To Fasti Archaeological Conservation | Survey


  • Grotta del Sambuco
  • Pianizzoli
  • Italy
  • Tuscany
  • Provincia di Grosseto
  • Massa Marittima



  • 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 main objective of the excavations was to deepen the trench in quadrant Q18, in order to reach US 6, already identified in another area of the excavation. This context had produced slight traces of lithic industry, abundant charcoal and an exceptional quantity of faunal remains: wolf, deer, and ox, micro-mammals. Also present were minute gastropods Bittium reticolatum associated with small fragments of bivalves. Radio carbon dating attributed this context to 23.632±150 BP, placing it towards the end of isotopic stage 3 of the Wurm Glaciation, before the Glacial Maximum. Given its antiquity, it was evident that this was a layer of great interest from a chronological-cultural point of view for this part of central Tuscany. The sediment’s characteristics, brown, sandy clay containing abundant limestone skeleton formed by travertine elements but above all small rounded cobbles from the exterior, clearly indicated the phenomena of run-off that could have disturbed the deposit of anthropological materials.
    Therefore, it was held necessary to investigate this US at a distance of some metres, by digging through the overlying US 5 in which no lithic industry seemed to be present. This apparently simple operation, conducted in a one metre square, was more complex than expected. The cleaning of the top of US 5 revealed more patches of a transitional layer now denominated US4-US5 (ex top of US%), constituted by residue of overlying US4 that contained anthropic material and the underlying US5, which contained residual traces of lithic industry and charcoal. Once the top of US5 had been completely removed, US4 was seen to present a posthole and at least two cavities containing brown soil. The layer itself was formed by a yellowish brown sediment, compacted in some areas, containing numerous charcoal fragments and slight traces of lithic industry. A fragment of diaphysis from a human femur was also found.

    During its excavation, the find was seen not to consist of bone but concretionary sediment (from the layer itself) with traces of ferrous oxides in it. Therefore, it is a positive cast that has largely retained the bone’s morphology making it possible to identify it. The find was 38 cm long, positioned horizontally and a small part of it lay in the adjacent quadrant Q17; but it seems to be the only find of the sort present in the layer. The continuation of the excavation revealed a charcoally lens, seemingly isolated, on section 7 within US5, probably a dump of material from a hearth.

    Unfortunately, the excavations halted at this level due to logistical problems, leaving several questions regarding its sterility unanswered, particularly in the light of the unexpected discovery of the human femur. Charcoal samples from the below the find will be radiometrically dated, which will make it possible to place it within the chronological sequence with respect to the overlying US4 and underlying US6.

  • Mauro Calattini- Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche e dei Beni Culturali – Università di Siena 
  • Attilio Galiberti- Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche e dei Beni Culturali – Università di Siena 



Research Body

  • Università degli Studi di Siena

Funding Body

  • Università degli Studi di Siena


  • file_image[PDF]