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Margherita Mussi

Margherita Mussi
ISMEO - The International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies

Director of the Italo-Spanish Archaeological Mission at Melka Kunture and Balchit

About

214
Publications
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Introduction
Margherita Mussi does research in Palaeolithic Archaeology. As Director of the Italo-Spanish Archaeological Mission at Melka Kunture and Balchit, she focuses on the prohect "Melka Kunture in the highlands of Ethiopia". She is also deeply interested in the Upper Pleistocene and early Holocene peopling of Italy and in Palaeolithic art.
Additional affiliations
October 1980 - October 2019
Sapienza University of Rome
Position
  • Professore Associato

Publications

Publications (214)
Article
Garba XIII is a new Acheulean site, recently excavated at Melka Kunture (2000 m asl), in the Upper Awash Valley of Ethiopia. The investigated archaeostratigraphic unit is located along the Garba gully and belongs to the Lower to basal Middle Pleistocene Melka Kunture Formation. In this paper, we discuss the evidence from a level discovered directly...
Article
Garba III, in the upper Awash Valley of Ethiopia, is one of the many sub-sites of Melka Kunture, where the overall archaeological record starts at c. 1.8 Ma. Garba III was excavated over several years in the 1970s, under the direction of Francis Hours, who was able to publish only preliminary reports before his untimely death. At the base of the se...
Poster
Full-text available
The MS is a 5m high and 15m long cliff with a sequence of Acheulean levels exposed in full view, the last remnants of what was once much more extensive Lower Pleistocene deposits. The environment was of alluvial plain facies, with interbedded volcanic deposits. Then a major tectonic event, the Kella Formation or Kella Event, dated ~1.2 Ma years [1]...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The MS is a 5m high and 15m long cliff with a sequence of Acheulean levels exposed in full view, the last remnants of what was once much more extensive Lower Pleistocene deposits.
Chapter
Despite its fragmentary nature, which often precludes precise identification, the fauna from Melka Kunture is quite interesting because many mammals are distinct at specific or subspecific levels from contemporaneous forms in the Turkana Basin or at Olduvai. This is true for the alcelaphins, the large hippo, and probably for most of the equids. Bec...
Article
The flint pebble from Maschio dell’Artemisio, a mountain near Velletri (South-East of Rome), is one of the earliest complex artefacts from the Upper Palaeolithic of the Colli Albani possibly displaying a symbolic/artistic value. It has been used as a stone-striker and retoucher, to create or modify lithic implements. It shows a diffuse and intense...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Early Palaeolithic archaeological sites are very often in open-air fluvial environments. Sedimentary features have important consequences for the degree of conservation of the archaeological record. Following these constraints, sites on gravel beds (i.e., stone lines) which imply high-energy water deposition, have traditionally been considered exte...
Article
Grotta di Pozzo is a small cave at 720 m asl and 42° N in the Apennine range of Abruzzo (Central Italy), formerly opening on the edge of a now drained large lake, the Lake Fucino. The archaeological sequence starts on the top of a fluvial-lacustrine deposit at 23,000 cal. BP, with layers including lithic industry of the Early Epigravettian. Later o...
Article
Full-text available
The paper provides new data on the age and formation processes of Garba I (Melka Kunture, Upper Awash, Ethiopia). The site, one of the largest handaxe accumulations of the African Acheulean, was extensively excavated in the 1960s of the last century by J. Chavaillon but left largely unpublished. The chronology was also poorly constricted. Quartz gr...
Article
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This is an overview of the events and polemics at the time of the discovery of the magnificent Gravettian figurines of the Balzi Rossi, in the late XIXth century, with some updated interpretation
Article
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Paolo Graziosi's long-standing and widely accepted theory for the interpretation of Upper Palaeolithic rock art of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region is here briefly summarized and then discussed at the light of a recent re-assessment of the Sicilian Lateglacial art record. In conclusion, the Sicilian art appears to fit well within the We...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Simbiro III, comprising the Monumental Section (MS) and the gully, is part of the Melka Kunture cluster of prehistoric sites, located in the Ethiopian highland at ~2000 m a.s.l. The MS, discovered in the Sixties and then not extensively investigated, looks like a ~5 meters high cliff and includes the impressive remnant of deposited multiple layers...
Article
Abstract Melka Kunture is a cluster of Pleistocene sites, extending over ⁓100km2 between 2000 and 2200m asl, in the upper Awash Valley of Ethiopia. Starting around 2 million-years ago, the archaeological sequence includes sites with lithic productions of the Oldowan, early Acheulean, middle Acheulean, final Acheulean, Early Middle Stone Age, Middle...
Article
Full-text available
We report new excavations (2017-2019) at Riparo Blanc, a rockshelter of Monte Circeo on the western coast of central Italy. A sequence of 6Mesolithic layers, with archaeological and anthropological remains, is dated 10,500-9,500 cal BP Published in Rivista di Preistoria e Protostoria, Notiziario
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Grotta di Pozzo (AQ) is a Lateglacial cave site of central Italy, where a well-dated stratigraphic sequence accumulated between 23,000 and 9,000 cal BP. Early Epigravettian, Final Epigravettian and Sauveterrian industries were all discovered. Human activity is especially well documented with the Final Epigravettian. During the Lateglacial, the most...
Article
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In two publications from 1967 and 1971, M. Masali described human skeletal remains presumed to have been found in the Balzi Rossi caves (Ventimiglia, Italy), based on a signed note dated to 1908. Since then, the remains - dubbed "Conio's Finds" and preserved at the University of Torino - had not been further studied. We performed a multidisciplinar...
Article
We present new magnetostratigraphic results from the Melka Kunture sedimentary sequence outcropping along the Gombore and Garba gullies in the Upper Awash Valley of Ethiopia that provide a new temporal framework for human presence in this area of the Ethiopian plateau in the Pleistocene. We obtained a time-diagnostic sequence of normal and reverse...
Article
Full-text available
Childhood is an ontogenetic stage unique to the modern human life history pattern. It enables the still dependent infants to achieve an extended rapid brain growth, slow somatic maturation, while benefitting from provisioning, transitional feeding, and protection from other group members. This tipping point in the evolution of human ontogeny likely...
Conference Paper
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The Pleistocene deposit of Casal de’ Pazzi (CdP) is located along the lower Aniene Valley, in the suburbs to the northeast of Rome (Italy). The excavations (~1.200 m2) revealed part of a paleo-river channel, notably a small tributary of Aniene river. The deposit overlies a tuff-bed, dated around 360 ka, filled up by fluvial sediments, consisting of...
Conference Paper
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Stable isotope analysis in mammal teeth from Pleistocene archaeological sites has proven highly informative regarding paleodiet and paleoenvironment in eastern Africa (Lee-Thorp et al., 2010). Here, we present measurements of 13 C/ 12 C and 18 O/ 16 O isotopic ratios on fossil mammal teeth from Melka Kunture prehistoric site, located along the uppe...
Conference Paper
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Stable isotopes and phytoliths analysis have been widely used in archaeological research, providing key information in the study of paleoclimate and paleoecology, and allowing to test hypotheses on adaptation and habitat changes in Africa during human evolution. Here, we report on both stable isotopes (13C, 18O) (14 fossil teeth samples) and phytol...
Poster
Full-text available
Stable isotopes and phytoliths analysis have been widely used in archaeological research, providing key information in the study of paleoclimate and paleoecology, and allowing to test hypotheses on adaptation and habitat changes in Africa during human evolution. Here, we report on both stable isotopes (13C, 18O) (14 fossil teeth samples) and phytol...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Garba IV level D (Garba IVD) and Gombore I level B (Gombore IB) are archaeological levels which are part of the Melka Kunture (MK) cluster of prehistoric sites, located on the western edge of the Main Ethiopian Rift at˜2000 m a.s.l. Both have been dated at˜1.6 Ma and record a high-density distribution of lithic artifacts, pebbles, and faunal remain...
Poster
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Applications of Stable Isotope Techniques to Ecological Studies (https://sites.google.com/view/isoecol-video/home/poster-presentations/terrestrial)
Conference Paper
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Melka Kunture (MK) is a cluster of prehistoric sites located in Ethiopia at high altitudes, ~2000 m a.s.l. The chronological sequence spans from ~1.8 Ma to the early Holocene. The archaeological record yielded several fossil hominins (H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, and H. sapiens), lithic industry, faunal remains and fossil footprints. Palynologic...
Article
While the emergence of the Acheulean is well documented in East Africa at ~1.7 Ma, subsequent developments are less well understood and to some extent controversial. Here, we provide robust evidence regarding the time period between 1.6 Ma and 1.2 Ma, based on an interdisciplinary approach to the stratigraphic sequences exposed in the Gombore gully...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Chamois hunting and chamois exploitation in Italy at the time of the Epigravettian – Over 30 sites were analysed, where the two species of chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata and Rupicapra rupicapra rupicapra) were both discovered. Chamois prevails at Riparo Soman and at three cave sites (Maritza, di Ortucchio, and di Pozzo). At five sites the perc...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The stratigraphic sequence of Grotta di Pozzo in the mountains of Central Italy includes a relevant part of the Late Glacial period, starting from the LGM, and the early Holocene as well . The calibrated dates range between 23,000 and 9,000 cal BP, in association with Epigravettian and Sauveterrian industries. Various types of fireplaces were in ex...
Chapter
Full-text available
This article presents the results of the technological and functional analysis carried out on the exceptional repertoire of Columbella rustica and Cypraea sp. ornaments as well as artefacts on large Charonia lampas shells recovered at the Late Mesolithic burial site of S’Omu e S’Orku (Sardinia, Italy). Our study established the modalities of orname...
Article
New ichnological data are available at the prehistoric site of Melka Kunture, Upper Awash Valley in Ethiopia. Excavation of new test pits enabled us to explore the volcanic and fluvio-lacustrine sequence at the Gombore II Open Air Museum archaeological site (ca. 0.85 Ma). This has allowed a detailed reconstruction of the palaeoenvironment and of th...
Article
Full-text available
Single-carcass sites of Lower and Middle Pleistocene age have attracted much attention since they were first recorded. They have been the focus both of science and of museum displays, with reconstructions of “hominins-feasting-on-a-carcass” purposefully illustrating a major step in human evolution. Here we report the Acheulean site Gombore II-2 in...
Chapter
Full-text available
Title: L'uso dell'ossidiana nella preistoria: una prospettiva est-africana While in the Mediterranean obsidian occurs exclusively in islands, in East Africa the outcrops are in the mainland and were extensively used during the MSA and the LSA. Melka Kunture, a cluster of Palaeolithic sites in the Upper Awash valley of Ethiopia, is the only area wh...
Article
Full-text available
The landscape of the surroundings of the Melka Kunture prehistoric site, Upper Awash Basin, Ethiopia, were studied intensively in the last decades. Nonetheless, the area was mainly characterized under a stratigraphic/geological and archaeological point of view. However, a detailed geomorphological map is still lacking. Hence, in this study, we iden...
Research
Full-text available
This is a map of geomorphological processes, forms and features in the surroundings of the Melka Kunture Palaeolithic site, Ethiopia which has to be read in conjunction with the paper by the same authors in Journal of Maps, 15:2, 797-806, DOI: 10.1080/17445647.2019.1669497
Article
Full-text available
We present previously unpublished pictures of the rock shelter and the painting at the prehistoric site known as Arnalo dei Bufali (Sezze, LT). The photos were taken by A. C. Blanc in 1936, when the site was discovered and studied for the first time; they are currently stored in the Blanc-Aguet archive, in Rome. The picture of a schematic anthropom...
Poster
Full-text available
MK 81 GAR IVE 0043 (henceforward GAR IVE) is a juvenile early Homo represented by a fragment of mandible and a partial mixed dentition. It has been unearthed at Garba IV (Melka Kunture, Upper Awash, Ethiopia), in layer E, dated to ∼1.8 Ma. This is one of the very few juvenile fossils of Early Pleistocene age. It is also one of the not many hominin...
Article
To assess the integrity of Pleistocene archaeological sites is crucial in the analysis of human behaviour. Most of the Early Palaeolithic sites are in active fluvial environments where it is necessary to understand the degree of sedimentary disturbance. The analysis of the formation processes through geoarchaeological and geostatistical techniques...
Article
Full-text available
The Neanderthal skull Circeo 1 was found by chance in 1939 in a cave of Mount Circeo, on the western coast of central Italy, supposedly in the middle of a circle of stones. The cave entrance opened unexpectedly when works were in progress to lay the foundations of a building. Alessandro Guattari, who owned the place, first entered the cave and noti...
Presentation
Full-text available
Forewords to a volume by Francesca Borruso, who explores the fascination for prehistoric art of Henry Moore, the great XX century sculptor. Moore notably reproduced Venus figurines in his sketch notes, while the Black Venus of Dolni Vestonice inspired his Three Standing Figures.
Poster
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The poster provides an updated summary of research at Melka Kunture
Poster
Full-text available
The poster is a critical reassessment of the rare representations of wolves so far discovered in Palaeolithic art
Poster
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The wolf (Canis lupus) in Palaeolithic art It is well known that carnivores (and other potentially aggressive large species) are poorly represented in Palaeolithic art. This is also the case for genus Ursus and genus Panthera, each of them recorded by 100-200 representations dating from 40,000 to 10,000 cal BP, compared to several thousand herbivo...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This is a report on the rich ichnological record of Gombore gully (Melka Kunture, Ethiopia).
Chapter
The emergence of the Acheulean is a major topic, currently debated by archaeologists researching all over East Africa. Despite the ongoing discussion and the increasing amount of available data, the mode(s) of the technological changes leading to this emergence remain(s) largely unexplained. Overall, there is a dearth of continuous stratigraphic se...
Chapter
We review below the Acheulean of East Africa from two perspectives: the history of research and the current state of the art. The definition of Acheulean industries has changed considerably over 150 years and since the earliest research in Africa. A brief presentation of the main discoveries, of the many theories, and of the various methods used in...
Chapter
In this paper, we present and discuss pollen data from the Early Pleistocene (1.8 to 1.6 Ma) – we use the revised timescale approved by IUGS, in which the base of the Pleistocene is defined by the GSSP of the Gelasian Stage at 2.588 (2.6) Ma (Gibbard et al. 2010) – and from the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (0.9 to 0.6 Ma) at Melka Kunture (Upper Awas...
Book
Full-text available
This edited volume presents current archaeological research and data from the major early Acheulean sites in East Africa, and addresses three main areas of focus; 1) the tempo and mode of technological changes that led to the emergence of the Acheulean in East Africa; 2) new approaches to lithic collections, including lithic technology analyses; an...
Article
Full-text available
Supplementary Information related to the paper: Archaeology and ichnology at Gombore II-2, Melka Kunture, Ethiopia: everyday life of a mixed-age hominin group 700,000 years ago.
Article
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We report the occurrence at 0.7 million years (Ma) of an ichnological assemblage at Gombore II-2, which is one of several archaeological sites at Melka Kunture in the upper Awash Valley of Ethiopia, 2000 m asl. Adults and children potentially as young as 12 months old left tracks in a silty substrate on the shore of a body of water where ungulates,...
Conference Paper
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Article
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The Acheulean is the longest-lasting human cultural record, spanning approximately 1.5 Ma and three continents. The most comprehensive sequences are found in East Africa, where, in large-scale syntheses, the Lower Pleistocene Acheulean (LPA) has often been considered a uniform cultural entity. Furthermore, the emergence and development of Acheulean...
Chapter
Full-text available
Canids are extremely rare in the in the artistic re- cord of the Palaeolithic, as Leroi-Gourhan (1992) remarked. Here we describe an engraved wolf on a pebble from Grotta Polesini near Rome, discovered in the middle of last century by A.M. Radmilli, a professional archaeologist of the time. Not only is it an exceptional depiction, but ever since Ra...
Article
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A traditional dwelling structure (tukul) was built in the Seventies of last century at the archaeological camp of Melka Kunture, Upper Awash Valley, Ethiopia. It was in use over a decade before being abandoned during the Derg period, when research was not allowed. When the camp was re-opened in the Nineties, the tukul had nearly collapsed, due to l...
Poster
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A grotta di Pozzo sono abbondanti le tracce di attivitá domestiche quotidiane:-focolari di cui è ben conservata la fovea;-strutture di blocchetti esposti ad un vivo calore, usati per la cottura;-ammassi di cenere derivanti dalla ripulitura dei focolari, con tracce dei rametti che si sono _lentamente inceneriti;-pozzetti presumibilmente rivestiti da...
Poster
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A brief presentation of the cluster of Early and Middle Pleistocene sites discovered at Melka Kunture, Upper Awash, Ethiopia
Article
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Se presentan los resultados preliminares de la caracterización de pigmentaciones rojas sobre artefactos paleolíticos de la zona sur de Montes Albanos (Roma, Italia). El conjunto de materiales está formado por tres cantos rodados decorados y una lámina cortical de sílex tipológicamente atribuibles al Paleolítico Superior (Epigravetiense final, 14.00...
Article
Full-text available
Preliminary results of new excavations at Riparo Blanc, a coastal site at Monte Circeo, central Italy. Research during the middle of last century unearthed a Mesolithic shell midden. Columbella rustica, a shell used for ornamentation, was found in unusually large numbers.
Article
Full-text available
Melka Kunture is a cluster of prehistoric sites located on the shoulder of the Main Ethiopian Rift, at 2000 m asl. Tens of sites have been unearthed since the Sixties of last century, revealing a rich and persistent record, anchored to a solid absolute dating system, starting at ca. 1.8 Ma. Here we report the discovery and preliminary description o...
Poster
Full-text available
Se presentan los resultados preliminares de la caracterización de pigmentaciones rojas identificadas sobre artefactos paleolíticos recuperados en la zona sur de Colli Albani (Roma, IT). Los materiales son tres cantos rodados decorados y una lámina cortical de sílex tipológicamente atribuibles al Paleolítico Superior (Epigravetiense final, 14.000-12...
Article
Environment, climatic change and human evolution have been debated over the last 50 years giving special attention to the Plio-Pleistocene sites of the Rift Valley. In this paper we discuss the environment and the limits of hominin adaptability based on evidence from Melka Kunture, at 2000 m asl on the Ethiopian highlands, and specifically on the ~...