Human Evolution

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 331–351 | Cite as

Skeletal indicators of subsistence patterns and activity régime in the Mesolithic sample from Grotta dell’Uzzo (Trapani, Sicily): a case study

  • S. M. Borgognini
  • Tarli E. Repetto


The skeletal sample from Grotta dell’Uzzo, Sicily (2 adult females and 5 adult males) was compared to a number of more representative population samples from Western Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. The majority of these were from Italian pre- and protohistoric sites. The research protocol analyzed skeletal indicators of labour activity and sexual division of labour (body size and proportions, sexual dimorphism, limb lateralization, bone robustness, the development of muscular attachments, accessory articular facets, signs of muscular hyperfunction). Sexual dimorphism and limb lateralization showed some regular patterns of possible general significance in all the samples examined here. A general pattern of gracilization and de-specialization of physical activity is observed in the Mesolithic as compared to the Upper Palaeolithic samples. The main features of the Mesolithic samples are: a reduction of body size and bone robustness, a lower degree of sexual dimorphism and limb bone asymmetry, a reduction of the mechanical stress on the lower limbs indicated by less pronounced muscular attachments and reduced talar flattening. This trend is reversed towards the Neolithic period. The main features of these variations are discussed in relation to economic and environmental changes. The Uzzo sample fits well into the general picture of the Western European Mesolithic, although showing some intermediate features between the Mesolithic and the Neolithic samples.

Key words

European Mesolithic body build limb lateralization sexual dimorphism mechanical stress labour division bio-cultural adaptation 


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Copyright information

© Editrice II Sedicesimo 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Borgognini
    • 1
  • Tarli E. Repetto
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di Antropologia e Paleontologia umanaPisaItaly

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