Radiocarbon dating and isotope analysis on the purported Aurignacian skeletal remains from Fontana Nuova (Ragusa, Italy)

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Gianpiero Di Maida, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Neanderthal Museum
  • ,
  • Marcello A. Mannino
  • Ben Krause-Kyora, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
  • ,
  • Theis Zetner Trolle Jensen, Københavns Universitet, York University
  • ,
  • Sahra Talamo, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Proving voyaging at sea by Palaeolithic humans is a difficult archaeological task, even for short distances. In the Mediterranean, a commonly accepted sea crossing is that from the Italian Peninsula to Sicily by anatomically modern humans, purportedly of the Aurignacian culture. This claim, however, was only supported by the typological attribution to the Aurignacian of the lithic industries from the insular site of Fontana Nuova. AMS radiocarbon dating undertaken as part of our research shows that the faunal remains, previously considered Aurignacian, actually date to the Holocene. Absolute dating on dentinal collagen also attributes the human teeth from the site to the early Holocene, although we were unable to obtain ancient DNA to evaluate their ancestry. Ten radiocarbon dates on human and other taxa are comprised between 9910–9700 cal. BP and 8600–8480 cal. BP, indicating that Fontana Nuova was occupied by Mesolithic and not Aurignacian hunter-gatherers. Only a new study of the lithic assemblage could establish if the material from Fontana Nuova is a mixed collection that includes both late Upper Palaeolithic (Epigravettian) and Mesolithic artefacts, as can be suggested by taking into account both the results of our study and of the most recent reinterpretation of the lithics. Nevertheless, this research suggests that the notion that Aurignacian groups were present in Sicily should now be revised. Another outcome of our study is that we found that three specimens, attributed on grounds both of morphological and ZooMS identifications to Cervus elaphus, had δ 13 C values significantly higher than any available for such species in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0213173
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume14
Issue3
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 160593643