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Revedin A.,Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria | Aranguren B.,Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici per la Toscana | Becattini R.,Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria | Longo L.,University of Siena | And 7 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2010

European Paleolithic subsistence is assumed to have been largely based on animal protein and fat, whereas evidence for plant consumption is rare. We present evidence of starch grains from various wild plants on the surfaces of grinding tools at the sites of Bilancino II (Italy), Kostenki 16-Uglyanka (Russia), and Pavlov VI (Czech Republic). The samples originate from a variety of geographical and environmental contexts, ranging fromnortheastern Europe to the central Mediterranean, and dated to the Mid-Upper Paleolithic (Gravettian and Gorodtsovian). The three sites suggest that vegetal food processing, and possibly the production of flour, was a common practice, widespread across Europe from at least ∼30,000 y ago. It is likely that high energy content plant foods were available and were used as components of the food economy of these mobile hunter-gatherers. Source

Longo L.,University of Siena | Boaretto E.,Weizmann Institute of Science | Caramelli D.,University of Florence | Giunti P.,Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria | And 6 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

The main processes invoked to explain the demise of Homo neanderthalensis are the effects of adverse climatic conditions in the northern hemisphere during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3) and the outcome of the interaction with Anatomically Modern Humans (AMHs). Evidence for the co-existence of these two hominins, however, is elusive and, therefore, verifying the role which these processes might have played in the extirpation of Neandertals remains a topic of heated debate. A site which can contribute to throw light on the replacement of H. neanderthalensis by AMHs is Riparo Mezzena, a rockshelter in northern Italy, where late Mousterian lithic industries were found in association with human remains. This paper reviews the results of recent investigations on the lithic assemblages and human bones recovered during excavation campaigns which took place in 1957 and 1977. The study of the physical anthropology of the skeletal remains, in conjunction with palaeogenetic analyses on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, have proven that the occupiers of Riparo Mezzena were Neandertals. The first radiocarbon date for the site, obtained on collagen extracted from a bovid from the lowermost part of the stratigraphic sequence (Layer III) and presented here (34,540 ± 655 14C uncal BP), attests that Riparo Mezzena was occupied during the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition period. The anthropogenic deposits at the site actually accumulated when the nearby site of Grotta di Fumane was occupied by humans who produced Proto-Aurignacian lithic industries. This suggests that Neandertals and AMHs probably co-existed for a short period of time in northern Italy, possibly competing for resources within the confined territory of the Monti Lessini. These findings arising from new research on the collections of Riparo Mezzena have important implications not only for the study of the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition in Italy, but also for the understanding of the process through which AMHs replaced H. neanderthalensis. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

Condemi S.,Aix - Marseille University | Tardivo D.,Aix - Marseille University | Foti B.,Aix - Marseille University | Ricci S.,University of Siena | And 2 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2012

This article describes an osteolytic odontogenetic lesion found on the mandible of a Neanderthal from the Middle Paleolithic site of Riparo Mezzena near the city of Verona (Italy). A pathology was revealed through X-ray and computerized-tomodensitometric examinations. This lesion was compared to present and sub-contemporary populations and indicates that it may have been of infectious origin, resulting from a bacterial invasion of the root canal of a coronal pulp exposure. The bacterial contamination may have resulted either from a traumatic fracture, a cavity, or extensive wear on the tooth. © 2011. Source

Aranguren B.,Soprintendenza peri Beni Archeologici della Toscana | Cavulli F.,University of Trento | D'Orazio M.,University of Pisa | Grimaldi S.,University of Trento | And 3 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

The open-air Bilancino site (Mugello basin, Florence, Italy) may be ascribed to the Noaillian facies of the Gravettian. The site is dated to 25,410±150 BP. As no faunal remains have been preserved due to the local deposit conditions, attention has been paid to the procurement strategy of the inorganic raw material - i.e. lithics and minerals - as well as to the exceptional evidence of behavior strictly related to vegetal food processing. Bilancino was a summer seasonal camp for the harvesting and the processing of hygrophilous herbs, in particular Typha latifolia (cattail). The Noailles burins were the tools that Gravettian people used to produce fibers from cattail; vegetal residues (starch) found on pestle-grinders and grinding stones provide the earliest evidence of a technique used in the preparation of flour based on wild plants. Mineral residues (hematite) found on another grinding stone, as well as fragments of this mineral found on the living floor of the site, provide evidence for the coloring of vegetable fibers and possibly other materials. Analysis of the provenance of the lithic and mineral raw material allows us to define the territory within which the Bilancino inhabitants may have found the natural sources for collecting the raw materials useful for their daily activities. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

Revedin A.,Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria | Longo L.,Musei Civici Fiorentini | Mariotti Lippi M.,University of Florence | Marconi E.,University of Molise | And 5 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

"Plant Resources in the Palaeolithic" is a research project focused on the technologies for plant food processing as documented by use-wear traces and plant residue on grinding tools found in European sites. Many researchers have been involved in the project, which encompasses the fields of archaeology, botany and food processing technologies, within the context of the history of European Prehistoric societies. The first study was carried out on use-wear traces and plant remains recovered from grinding tools from the sites of Bilancino (Italy), Kostienki 16 (Russia) and Pavlov VI (Czech Republic), dating to the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic (Gravettian and Gorotsovian) around 28,000-30,000cal BP. The results demonstrated that vegetable food processing and the production of flour was a common practice across Europe from at least 30,000 years ago and that flour, a high-energy food, was a component of the food economy of mobile hunter gatherers. Flour production and consumption imply multi-step processing from harvesting to cooking to obtain a suitable and digestible food, and that this was part of an Upper Paleolithic behavioural package. This paper presents new data from two Gravettian pestles, found at Grotta Paglicci - level 23a (Southern Italy) and at Dolni Vestonice I (Czech Republic), which furnish further information about plant exploitation and the technologies related to plant food processing. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

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