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Excavation

  • Grotta di Santa Croce
  • Matine delle Monache
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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)

    • After an interval of five years research recommenced in June 2011 on the deposit outside of the Grotta di Santa Croce. The excavation examined the middle Palaeolithic stratigraphy in the exterior trench, situated at about 20 m from the present entrance to the cavern. The excavated layers were part of a complex with a reddish brown sandy matrix, which contained an abundance of animal bone fragments and lithic industry: USS 546 and 549. Both stratigraphic units, like all of the upper layers investigated to date, were part of the exterior coinoid fan, which from the ancient entrance to the cavern, now further back due to a series of collapses from the vault, descended towards the back of the cave. Large calcareous blocks, probably from these collapses, emerged during the excavation. In unit 546 the position of the blocks followed the inclination of the layers, while in unit 549 several were positioned almost vertically in the sediment. The calcareous blocks in US 546 created a discontinuity within the layer, in particular in the concentration of bone remains, which may have travelled slightly due to hill-wash along the sloping surface of the conoid fan. In particular, in quadrants 50x/22-23y there was a larger concentration of bone fragments uphill from two large boulders. However, the edges of the fractures on the bone fragments did not show any clear signs of having been water-borne.

      Stratigraphic unit 546, average thickness 15-20 cm, was completely removed over an area of 4 m2. Below lay US 549, darker in colour and more friable at the surface. A small area was excavated to a depth of about 10 cm, without reaching its base. In the deepest part of the layer, finds of lithic and faunal material seemed to become scarcer.

      The types of faunal remains recovered were the same as those documented in the overlying layers 525 and 535. In fact, horse and aurochs were the only ungulates hunted, with the exception of extremely sporadic remains of deer in US 546. In the small extension investigated, in which structural elements were absent, and which was peripheral with respect to the probable living area of the Neanderthals, there appeared to be a selection of skeletal parts (mainly fragments of long bone diaphyses and single teeth). The distal parts of the limbs (phalanges and sesamoids), joint bones and epiphyses were missing. Among the few exceptions were two large fragments: a radius and metacarpal of an aurochs, with proximal epiphyses, recovered in US 546. A preliminary observation of the isolated horse and aurochs teeth showed that in these two layers there was also a scarcity of elements from juvenile/young and sub-adult individuals.

      A preliminary examination of the lithic industry showed no significant differences with what was previously documented. A variety of production processes were noted, with a predominance of discoid production and the presence of an independent production line for blades with orthogonal débitage. A fairly standardised form of blade was present in large numbers, made with semi-inert bilateral retouch which greatly reduced its width. Elements from all phases of the production chain were present: cores were particularly numerous, most of which either exhausted or abandoned when accidently destroyed during a phase of débitage.

    • Annamaria Ronchitelli - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti”, Sezione di Ecologia Preistorica 
    • Paolo Boscato - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti” 

    Director

    Team

    • Stefano Ricci - Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente – Unità di Ricerca di Preistoria e Antropologia – Università di Siena
    • C. Iannicelli
    • Chiara Gianni
    • D. Francesca
    • E. Scarsella
    • Ebe Chiara Princigalli
    • Filomena Ranaldo - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti”
    • Giulia Marciani -
    • M. Zanotto
    • N. Sasso
    • Paolo Gambassini - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti”, Sezione di Ecologia Preistorica
    • V. Marinozzi
    • Francesco Boschin - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell'Ambiente, UR Preistoria e Antropologia
    • Jacopo Crezzini - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti”
    • Helena Klempererova - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti”

    Research Body

    • Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti” – Unità di Ricerca di Ecologia Preistorica – Università di Siena

    Funding Body

    • Comune di Ginosa
    • Università degli Studi di Siena

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