Climbing the time to see Neanderthal behaviour’s continuity and discontinuity: SU 11 of the Oscurusciuto Rockshelter (Ginosa, Southern Italy)

Abstract

The Oscurusciuto Rockshelter (Ginosa, Southern Italy) is a perfect sample-site for the reconstruction of multiple aspects of the last Neanderthals life. Different settlement strategies are attested in the excavated portion of the stratigraphic sequence, dated between ~ 55 and 43 ka BP. As a first goal, the reconstruction of the site spatial organization across the palimpsest SU 11 was achieved by a high-temporal-resolution approach (assisted by sedimentological analysis), integrating lithic technology, zooarchaeology and spatial analysis (by means of the GIS technology). As a second goal, a diachronic perspective was adopted by comparing results from SU 11 with the previously studied evidence from the underlying SU 13. Results were processed at a diachronic scale, highlighting similarities and differences related both to the type of activities carried out at the site and to their spatial management. This allowed us to recognize discontinuities and, especially, continuities of settlement dynamics, which can be related to phenomena of cultural transmission hinting to a “memory of places”. Such results stimulate the debate not only on the necessity to study Middle Palaeolithic contexts at different temporal scales but also on the necessity to develop more refined multidisciplinary analytical protocols. The study of settlement dynamics at high-resolution scales allows to take advantage of the potentialities of contextual analysis i.e. the integration of results from different disciplines and data from the whole range of archaeological evidence in order to reconstruct solid behavioural models.

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Acknowledgements

The research projects, still ongoing, began in 1998 and were carried on by the Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente, U.R. Preistoria e Antropologia of the University of Siena (Italy) with the partnership of Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio per le province di Brindisi, Lecce e Taranto, the local Section of Legambiente and the Municipality of Ginosa. The authors are indebted to the Municipality of Ginosa, Ms. Piero di Canio (and his family), Onlus CESQ and to all the participants in the excavation of 2009-2011 (with some of the authors: C. Abruzzese, S. Alconchel Romero, S. Condemi, J. Crezzini, Elena D’Itria, P. Gambassini, F. Granito, Z. Guerrero Bueno, S. Mainieri, A. Moro, G. Musella, E. Orso, F. Paraskoulakis, M. J. Peñalver Puerta, A. Pizzarelli, F. Ranaldo, M. Serradimigni, V. Stasolla, M. Valeri). Many thanks to Sem Scaramucci for helping with English reviewing. The sedimentological and stratigraphic analyses were funded by the National Geographic Society/Exploration Grant Program (grant NGS-61617R-19 to I. Martini).

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Annamaria Ronchitelli is the research coordinator with Paolo Boscato and Francesco Boschin. Giulia Marciani in collaboration with Daniele Aureli studied the lithic industry. Ivan Martini performed the geoarchaeological analysis. Francesco Boschin and Paolo Boscato analysed the faunal remains. Vincenzo Spagnolo conceptualized the paper and performed the palimpsest dissecting and the spatial analyses. All the authors collaborated in writing reviewing and editing the final version of the paper.

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Correspondence to Vincenzo Spagnolo.

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Spagnolo, V., Marciani, G., Aureli, D. et al. Climbing the time to see Neanderthal behaviour’s continuity and discontinuity: SU 11 of the Oscurusciuto Rockshelter (Ginosa, Southern Italy). Archaeol Anthropol Sci 12, 54 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00971-9

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Keywords

  • Neanderthal behaviour
  • Settlement dynamics
  • Palimpsest
  • Lithic technology
  • Zooarchaeology
  • GIS