Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 323-355

First online:

A Niche Construction Perspective on the Middle–Upper Paleolithic Transition in Italy

  • Julien Riel-SalvatoreAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Colorado Denver Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This paper presents an overview of the Middle–Upper Paleolithic transition in Italy in light of recent research on the Uluzzian technocomplex and on the paleoecological context of the transition. Drawing on the realization that human niche construction can be documented in the pre-agricultural archaeological record, niche construction theory is used as a conceptual framework to tie together facets of the behavioral, biological, and ecological dimensions of the transition interval into formal models of their interaction over time and in diverse contexts. Ultimately, this effort shows how foragers of the transitional interval in the Italian peninsula were active agents in shaping their evolutionary history, with consequences of some adaptive systems being felt only much later and directing the forces responsible for the ultimate disappearance of the Mousterian and Uluzzian technocomplexes in favor of the proto-Aurignacian industry, the exact nature of which clearly appears to vary on a regional level.


Niche construction theory Italy Middle–Upper Paleolithic transition Neanderthals Homo sapiens Lithic technology Mobility strategies Subsistence strategies