Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 8, pp 1933–1943 | Cite as

Evidence of open-air late prehistoric occupation in the Trieste area (north-eastern Italy): dating, 3D clay plaster characterization and obsidian provenancing

  • F. Bernardini
  • E. Sibilia
  • Zs. Kasztovszky
  • F. Boscutti
  • A. De Min
  • D. Lenaz
  • G. Turco
  • R. Micheli
  • C. Tuniz
  • M. Montagnari Kokelj
Original Paper


Abundant clay burnt plaster remains and a few flaked tools, including an obsidian artefact, found on the ground surface not far from Trieste (north-eastern Italy) provide rare evidence of a possible prehistoric open-air occupation in the area. To confirm and detail their ancient origin, a plaster sample has been dated between 4000 and 2000 B.C. via thermoluminescence. Outer and inner structure of selected plaster samples has been characterized using several techniques, i.e. X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray computed micro-tomography, obtaining information about their production technology. The last technique has allowed to image and virtually extract vegetal remains and imprints. Their 3D morphological study has contributed to collect information about the ancient environment and has provided clues to define the plaster production season. The provenance of the obsidian artefact from Lipari Island, revealed by prompt gamma activation analysis, suggests that the finding site was part of long-distance connection systems and probably worked as intermediate point between the north-eastern Adriatic coastal areas and the inner Karst plateau.


Late Neolithic-Copper Age North-eastern Italy Clay plaster Thermoluminescence dating X-ray diffraction Scanning electron microscopy X-ray computed micro-tomography Obsidian provenance Prompt gamma activation analysis 



The authors are grateful to M. Di Giovannantonio for the review of the draft and A. Fragiacomo for the drawings of the chipped stone artefacts. This research was supported by the University of Trieste (Finanziamento per la Ricerca di Ateneo—FRA project 2014, coordinated by A. Favretto) and is part of the ICTP, Università di Trieste, Soprintendenza Archeologia FVG agreement “Accordo di collaborazione per lo sviluppo di tecnologie scientifiche avanzate per la conoscenza, la tutela e la valorizzazione delle evidenze archeologiche e del paesaggio antico della regione Friuli Venezia Giulia”. The PGAA measurements of the obsidian samples were performed with the support of K100385 Nr. project of the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NKFIH). The study was conceived and designed by FBe; FBe carried out archaeological surveys; ES performed TL dating and wrote the related chapter; DL and ADM performed XRD analyses; GT performed SEM analyses; FBe and CT performed microCT analyses; ZK performed PGAA analyses; RM performed research; FBo wrote the paleobothanical parts; FBe and MMK wrote the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Bernardini
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Sibilia
    • 3
  • Zs. Kasztovszky
    • 4
  • F. Boscutti
    • 5
  • A. De Min
    • 6
  • D. Lenaz
    • 6
  • G. Turco
    • 7
  • R. Micheli
    • 8
  • C. Tuniz
    • 2
    • 1
    • 9
  • M. Montagnari Kokelj
    • 10
  1. 1.Centro Fermi, Museo Storico della Fisica e Centro di Studi e Ricerche “Enrico Fermi”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Multidisciplinary Laboratory, The “Abdus Salam” International Centre for Theoretical PhysicsTriesteItaly
  3. 3.INFN and Department of Materials ScienceUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  4. 4.Nuclear Analysis and Radiography DepartmentMTA Centre for Energy ResearchBudapestHungary
  5. 5.Department of Agricultural, Food, Environmental and Animal SciencesUniversity of UdineUdineItaly
  6. 6.Department of Mathematics and GeosciencesUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly
  7. 7.Department of Medical SciencesUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly
  8. 8.Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio del Friuli Venezia GiuliaTriesteItaly
  9. 9.Centre for Archaeological ScienceUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  10. 10.Department of HumanitiesUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly

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