Programmes > Par auteur > Livraghi Alessandra

On the trail of the giant deer. The large herbivores exploitation at De Nadale Cave, a new Quina Mousterian site in the Fore-Alpine area, Italy.
Alessandra Livraghi  1, 2@  , Matteo Romandini  1, 3@  , Marco Peresani  1, *@  
1 : Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, Sezione di Scienze Preistoriche e Antropologiche  (UniFe)
Corso Ercole I d'Este, 32, IT 44122, Ferrara -  Italie
2 : Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Area de Prehistoria  (URV)
Avinguda de Catalunya 35, 43002 Tarragona, Spain. -  Espagne
3 : Università degli Studi di Bologna, Dipartimento di Beni Culturali  (UniBo)
Via degli Ariani, 1, IT 48121, Ravenna -  Italie
* : Auteur correspondant

De Nadale Cave is a small cavity located in the Berici Hills, in North-Eastern Italy. It is oriented towards South and it is situated at 80 m a.s.l., on a steep slope. The excavations exposed a thin stratigraphic sequence down to bedrock, with one single anthropic layer inserted between sterile levels. Disturbances are attested by the presence of badger dens along the wall in the western and eastern parts of the cave. Apart from them, levels are very well preserved and their boundaries were clearly visible.

The anthropic layer contains hundreds of osteological remains, lithic implements and small charcoal. The site dates back to 70.2 +1/-0.9 ky BP, as the Uranium-series (U-Th) dating protocol carried out on an herbivore molar pointed out. The lithic industry seems to be linked to the Quina knapping method, which is very rare in the North of Italy.

Faunal remains show a preponderance of large sized ungulates: the most frequent species are Megaloceros giganteus and Cervus elaphus, which is an unusual evidence for the Berici plateau. They are followed by bovines (Bos/Bison and Bison priscus), Capreolus capreolus and Rupicapra rupicapra.

The taphonomic analysis pointed out an excellent preservation of the osteological remains. Nearly half of the total amount of bones bears butchering marks: cut marks, impact notches and spiral fractures have been identified on the surface of several shafts. Furthermore, the high number of pieces carrying retouch induced stigmata is astonishing: around 300 bone shafts showed to have been used as tools in the lithic chaînes opératoires.

The faunal association reflects an open plains environment, in a generally cold-temperate climatic context, according to the dating of the MIS4. Moreover, large sized Cervidae species and auroch confirm this point of view and suggest the presence of a swampy area with water sources.The intense exploitation of large sized herbivores as food supplies is peculiar of this site and seems to diverge from the predation model recognized in other coeval sites on the Pre-Alpine belt. This unique feature and the presence of the Quina method make the De Nadale Cave an important site to understand the complexity of Neanderthal behavior and his settlement pattern in the North of Italy. Its location is also relevant as it is situated between the Lessini region and the Berici Hills, both rich in evidences dating back to the Middle Palaeolithic.


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