Lost and Found: Epigravettian Point from the Gargano peninsula

In Western Europe, between ca. 22 k.a. and 20 k.a cal BP, human groups responded to LGM environmental conditions by developing a suite of new technologies characterized by a variety of diagnostic projectile points produced by bifacial retouch, which define the Solutrean technocomplex.

In the regions of southeastern Europe, hunter-gatherers of the LGM produce a different lithic technology, the early Epigravettian, characterized by shouldered and backed projectile points produced by unifacial retouch most probably being derived from the preceding Gravettian technocomplex. Bifacial leaf-shaped points are rare and have been recovered from only a few sites in northern Italy.

Reconstructions of their ecological niches indicate that they overlap broadly, but that the Solutrean was able to exploit colder and more humid areas, corresponding to areas with permanent permafrost during the LGM. In contrast, the Epigravettian in Italia and the Balkans seems to have been better adapted to areas characterized by discontinuous permafrost and seasonal freezing. Neither technocomplex was adapted to the more southerly dry and relatively warmer Mediterranean environments during the LGM.

The Gargano is a coastal area of great beauty on the Adriatic Sea in the Puglia province of Foggia. The Monte Gargano forms the backbone of the large peninsula. Most of it is now a national park, the Parco Nazionale del Gargano. The Gargano peninsula, which is mostly mountainous, was once an island, and is still separated from the mainland by a plain called Tavoliere delle Puglie. On the east it forms the Bay of Manfredonia.

The Gargano promontory t is rich in karst phenomena like caves, abris and dolines. While in the earlier Holocene the promontory was entirely covered with forests, now they represent only the 15% of its original surface area: the most important woodland in the Park is Foresta Umbra. Gargano is not only known for its mountains and the Parco Nazionale, but even more for its 200 kilometers long coastline. A coast of sandy beaches, pine woods, bays, coves, cliffs, dunes, caves, and not least the famous faraglioni, white rocks emerging from the blue of the sea in the Baia dei Mergoli and the Baia delle Zagare, where I was happy to stay there for some days.

This shouldered point is a surface find from a small rock shelter two km north of the Baia delle Zagare. Abris are numerous in the Foresta Umbra and systematic archaeological surveys seem not to be having started till now. The armature can be compared to some similar projectiles that are present in the “Epigravettien ancien” of the nearby Grotta Paglicci. Excavated in the 1960–90ies, this site has a complete and long sequence spanning the whole of the Upper Paleolithic, being especially rich in the period of the LGM.

Grotta Paglicci is uniquely located in what would have been the hinterland of the now submerged Adriatic plain. The prospection of smaller epiphermal contemporaneous sites of the Gargano peninsula, like the abris north of Baia delle Zagare would certainly broaden our understanding of subsistence strategies and landscape use, especially during the harsh conditions of the LGM.

Suggested Reading:


Flint Dagger from the Mid-Neolithic in the Gargano

Quina Mousterian from the Gargano

At the Shores of Europe: Acheulian in the Gargano

Large Acheulian Handaxe from S-Italy

Levallois- Mousterian in S-Italy

Mousterian Scraper from San Marco in Lamis (Gargano; Italy)

An important early work about the Italian Paleolithic:

aggsbach 1928

The Baia delle Zagare at September  2011

About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome! About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University. Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.
This entry was posted in Plaeolithics and Neolithics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lost and Found: Epigravettian Point from the Gargano peninsula

  1. Ber says:

    Very nice artefact, beautiful patina too, whitish on transparant brown flint …


  2. Pingback: Mousterian Scraper from San Marco in Lamis (Gargano; Italy) | Aggsbach's Paleolithic Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *