Levallois- Mousterian in S-Italy


italia mousterian aggsbach

On the left this picture shows two Quina scrapers from the Gargano and from Venosa (Basilicata). While the Gargano has been introduced during earlier posts (http://www.aggsbach.de/2013/08/gragano-homo-heidelbergensis-was-here/) – the Basilicata also known as Lucania is a region in the south of Italy, bordering on Campania to the west, Apulia (Puglia) to the north and east, and Calabria to the south/west. The artifacts on the right are typical Levallois-based artifacts from a surface site in the Gargano. Two of them are pretty blade based and have affinity to the late Mousterian in N-Italy immediately before the arrival of AMH.

New excavations in N and S-Italy have shown, that the evolution of the Italian Middle Paleolithic follows in large lines the evolution of this complex in S-France. At the Grotta di Fumane, an important site in northern Italy, which has been extensively explored over the last two decades a succession of Mousterian- Uluzzian-Protoaurignacian and Aurignacian (and early Aurignacin parietal paintings  and an ochered shell in the late Mousterian !) was documented and extensively dated (http://www.ice-age-europe.eu/visit-us/network-members/fumane-cave.html). The 12 m thick sedimentary sequence are related to repeat and complex human occupations. The earliest assemblages record the almost exclusive use of the Levallois method (MIS 5-4) for the production of flakes with unidirectional and centripetal recurrent modalities. The first striking technological replacement occurs in BR6, up to BR3, where there is a complex of layers with the infrequent occurrence of bones, flakes and scrapers, made with a method closely resembling the Quina technique (MIS4). Further evidence of variability in lithic technology is provided by the re-appearance of the Levallois technology during MIS3, in layer A11 – although here focused more on blades than flakes – and by the Levallois/Discoid alternance throughout the transect from A10V to A5-A6 (MIS3).

Guado San Nicola (Monteroduni, Molise) was recently dated to the MIS 11-10 boundary (see comments) by the 40Ar/39Ar method and provided an ensemble of Levallois products within an Acheulean context. This is older than the recently reported “earliest Levalloisian from Eurasia” at Nor Geghi 1, Armenia (OIS10/9e boundary). Nor Geghi 1, Armenia, was recently reported being the earliest site with synchronic use of bifacial and Levallois technology outside Africa. Units 5 to 4 at this site are correlated with late OIS 10/early OIS 9e, whereas Units 3 to 2 with OIS 9e (335 to 325 k.a.)

In North Italy the oldest Levalloisian was reported from  San Bernardino Cave (MIS8/7 boundary).

Although the Levallois method was suggested to be absent in S-Italia during MIS5-3, stratified sites with Levallois based ensembles and absolute dates have been excavated during the last two decades, contradicting the view, that the Italian South did not share the technical and cultural innovations in the rest of Europe. The Levallois technique during the last interglacial/glacial cycle (MIS5 and later) is now well established, especially in Puglia.  For example, the layer B of the Grotta Bernardini which recently was dated to a period just after 108 k.a. shows basically a Levallois mode of lithic production, as the industry  of  the G layer  at Grotta Romanelli  (MIS 4/3) and corresponding strata of the  Grotta Titti.

Suggested Readings:


A closer view on one of the Gargano retouched Levallois blades – a stiking convergence to the ca. 220 k.a. old Hummalian artifacts in the Syrian Desert! (http://www.aggsbach.de/2010/10/hummalien-at-el-kowm/).


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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.
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2 Responses to Levallois- Mousterian in S-Italy

  1. Aneria says:

    Thank you for those great pictures and the great singularization work you provide.

    However, I’d just like to highlight that the dissconection of the southern Italy from other technological traditions have indeed been demonstrated wrong, but an oppoisite way of reflexion emerged, thanks to the researchs undertaken on the sites of Guado San Nicola (Monteroduni, Molise). As a matter of fact, this site, dated of the MIS 11-10 boundary, thanks to an intrabbeded tephra layers (using 40Ar/39Ar method) within the archaeological layers, provided an ensemble of Levallois flakes within an acheulean type “Mode 2” technocomplex, which makes it the earliest occurrence of Levallois industry in Eurasia (Nomade, Pereora, 2014. Datation 40Ar/39Ar du site de Guado San Nicola. Annali dell’Università degli studi di Ferrara 10(1), 13-17 and Muttilo et al., 2014. L’industria litica in selce di Guado San Nicola. Annali dell’Università degli studi di Ferrara 10(1)).

    I would highly recommand you to have a look to these surprizing results.
    Thank you again for your time and work !

  2. Katzman says:

    Great feedback- I did not know this site. Indeed there is no other European Levallois site known from MIS 11. But would you really suggest a continuous “tradition” from this site towards the Levallois phenomenon during MIS 5-3?

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