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Abstract

Pollen analyses have been carried out on the infilling deposits of Grotta Romanelli (Apulia, Italy), a reference site for the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Italy. The analysis focused on Terre rosse, a fine unit till now ascribed to an interstadial phase following the Würm acme, and on the uppermost unit (Terre brune), recently dated to the latest Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene. Despite the diffuse barrenness and low pollen concentration of many levels, pollen data from Grotta Romanelli gives insights into the palaeoenvironmental setting of the deposits and their chronological attribution. The presence of Olea in all levels of Terre rosse strongly suggests their attribution to the Last Interglacial (Eemian), during which this plant was diffused in the Mediterranean area. The Terre brune deposition occurred when the environment was open, with rare trees and shrubs and prevailing steppe elements. This association reflects the climatic conditions of the Lateglacial, with evidence of both the warm interstadial Bølling/Allerød and the cold stadial Younger Dryas. Mediterranean, mesophilous and riparian arboreal elements are present, especially in the Early Holocene levels. Comparison with modern pollen material allowed some fossil grains, found in high amounts and in clusters, to be tentatively ascribed to the species Crithmum maritimum (Apiaceae), Muscari comosum and to Asparagus maritimus/Ornithogalum (Asparagaceae). The significant occurrence of such entomophilous plants reveals differential transportation inside the cave and, since most of them are edible and/or have medicinal properties, suggests an intentional introduction and possible use during time, by both Neanderthals and modern humans.

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... OSU1) or from colluvial sediments or soils covering the surrounding landscape. The sediments therefore have been washed into the cave system and transported by run-off and/or karstic waters, indicating the beginning of landscape destabilisation 51 within a warm and humid climatic context as suggested also by the presence of pollen spectra with a consistent amount of olive tree 52 . Once arrived inside the cave the sediments were redistributed over short distances by bi-directional water flows both toward the internal and the external part of the cave, by means of predominant sheet-flows (plane parallel bedding) and occasionally within rills (local cut and fill), possibly related to events of increased water availability (i.e. ...
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During the last century, Grotta Romanelli (Southern Italy) has been a reference site for the European Late Pleistocene stratigraphy, due to its geomorphological setting and archaeological and palaeontological content. The beginning of the sedimentation inside the cave was attributed to the Last Interglacial (MISs 5e) and the oldest unearthed evidence of human occupation, including remains of hearths, was therefore referred to the Middle Palaeolithic. Recent surveys and excavations produced new U/Th dates, palaeoenvironmental interpretation and a litho-, morpho- and chrono-stratigraphical reassessment, placing the oldest human frequentation of the cave between MIS 9 and MIS 7, therefore embracing Glacial and Interglacial cycles. These new data provide evidence that the sea reached the cave during the Middle Pleistocene and human occupation occurred long before MISs 5e and persisted beyond the Pleistocene- Holocene boundary.
... *E-mail: cristiano.vignola@uniroma1.it A palynological study has been carried out for the first time on the infilling deposits of Grotta Romanelli (Apulia, Italy), a reference site for the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Italy (Russo Ermolli et al. 2021). The rare fossil pollen grains recovered give insights into the palaeoenvironmental setting of the cave, contributing also to the chronological attribution of the deposits. ...
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... *E-mail: cristiano.vignola@uniroma1.it A palynological study has been carried out for the first time on the infilling deposits of Grotta Romanelli (Apulia, Italy), a reference site for the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Italy (Russo Ermolli et al. 2021). The rare fossil pollen grains recovered give insights into the palaeoenvironmental setting of the cave, contributing also to the chronological attribution of the deposits. ...
Conference Paper
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Preprint
During the last century, Grotta Romanelli (Southern Italy) has been a reference site for the European Late Pleistocene stratigraphy, due to its geomorphological setting and archaeological and palaeontological content. The beginning of the sedimentation inside the cave was attributed to MISs 5e and the oldest unearthed evidence of human occupation, including remains of hearths, was therefore referred to the Middle Palaeolithic. Recent surveys and excavations produced new U/Th dates, palaeoenvironmental interpretation and a litho-, morpho- and chrono-stratigraphical reassessment, placing the oldest human frequentation of the cave between MIS 9 and MIS 7, therefore embracing Glacial and Interglacial cycles. These new data provide evidence that the sea reached the cave during the Middle Pleistocene and human occupation occurred long before MISs 5e and persisted beyond the Pleistocene- Holocene boundary.
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The intended task of the present study is to shed some light on the main characters, stratigraphical distribution and possible ways of life of the Western European representatives of the genus Hippopotamus, namely Hippopotamus antiquus Desmarest (= H. major Cuvier), H. amphibius L. and H. tiberinus Mazza. The investigation includes also comparisons with H. gorgops Dietrich, an African representative of the stock from which some European hippopotamuses are supposed to have derived. Basing on a whole series of observations, the present author believes that among the specimens attributed to H. incognitus Faure, the oldest ones, as those from Durfort, should actually be attributed to H. antiquus, while the others, more recent, as those from Barrington, should rather be assigned to H. amphibius. Since the specimens from Barrington are the type material of H. incognitus, in the writer's opinion the latter inevitably falls in the synonymy of H. amphibius. Hippopotamuses first dispersed in Europe during the Early Pleistocene, where they are represented by H. antiquus. This species apparently became extinct shortly before the beginning of the Elsterian. H. tiberinus, a probable offspring from the Antiquus stock, is first attested during the interval straddling the Villafranchian-Galerian transition. In the course of the Middle Pleistocene it dispersed in Central Europe, from which it apparently disappeared at the beginning of the Saalian, withdrawing to more southern areas. Hippopotamuses are apparently missing from northern and central Europe during the latest Middle Pleistocene, surviving in Italy. With the climatical amelioration which marked the transition to the Late Pleistocene, H. tiberinus returned to Central Europe, dying out definitely before the beginning of the last glaciation. H. amphibius made its entrance in Europe in the course of the Eemian and moved away during the first part of the first Pleniglacial. Concerning the habits of life of these animals, H. amphibius spends a considerably long time out of the water roaming even quite far in search of food. H. antiquus and, even more, H. gorgops and H. tiberinus, on the other hand, seem to have had more aquatic habits, in that they likely spend most of their time immersed in water, grazing mainly on water plants and vegetation ashore, and perhaps only occasionally left the water looking for food on land. Although hippopotamuses are usually relegated to play the role of second actors compared with other more 'noble' faunas, they may often be very indicative forms from both stratigraphical and paleoecological points of view.
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Bayesian models have proved very powerful in analyzing large datasets of radiocarbon ( ¹⁴ C) measurements from specific sites and in regional cultural or political models. These models require the prior for the underlying processes that are being described to be defined, including the distribution of underlying events. Chronological information is also incorporated into Bayesian models used in DNA research, with the use of Skyline plots to show demographic trends. Despite these advances, there remain difficulties in assessing whether data conform to the assumed underlying models, and in dealing with the type of artifacts seen in Sum plots. In addition, existing methods are not applicable for situations where it is not possible to quantify the underlying process, or where sample selection is thought to have filtered the data in a way that masks the original event distribution. In this paper three different approaches are compared: “Sum” distributions, postulated undated events, and kernel density approaches. Their implementation in the OxCal program is described and their suitability for visualizing the results from chronological and geographic analyses considered for cases with and without useful prior information. The conclusion is that kernel density analysis is a powerful method that could be much more widely applied in a wide range of dating applications.
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Cave sediments may contain important long-term records of past environments and human activity. Pollen provides key evidence, since it disperses widely and is relatively durable. We still know relatively little about the dispersal of pollen into caves, and its preservation within cave sediments, compared with our relatively detailed knowledge of pollen taphonomy in other sedimentary environments. Pollen taphonomy in caves is dependent on a variety of transport pathways and seems to be very contingent on local circumstance. The airfall component of cave pollen assemblages often seems comparable with airfall spectra in the landscape outside the cave, but bees, birds and bats may transport considerable quantities of pollen into caves, and the entrance-flora may also be significant. Cave sediments are rarely waterlogged and pollen within them can be subject tomicrobial and chemical degradation. Sedimentation in caves is often episodic, with episodes of storage and deposition, sometimes redeposition of sediment, which means that biostratinomic, preservational, factors become very significant. Comparison with sequences outside caves is difficult because few caves are found in landscapes where there are comparable pollen records from lakes and bogs. Here we review the factors affecting cave pollen taphonomy and hence the reliability of palynological analysis of sediments from caves, with suggestions for future investigation.
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The following list comprises age measurements carried out between December 1963 and September 1964. The samples dated are almost all of archaeological interest and are drawn from Italian and Egyptian territory.
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An attempt has been made to assemble the large number of C 14 dates measured in Groningen since the last date list was published in 1958. We have not succeeded in preparing all the measurements done in this time; the present list contains a more or less random selection. It is hoped the rest will be included in next year's list.
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The pollen morphology of some Eurasiatic species of the genus Quercus was studied by means of scanning electron microscopy. Three major pollen types can be distinguished. The relation between these pollen types and the evergreen and deciduous habits is discussed, as well as their taxonomic significance.
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Oligocene carbonate ramps and platforms are widespread and though they are important carbonate reservoirs, detailed studies on the facies organization, platform type and internal architecture are scarce. Within this context, the Chattian carbonate units cropping out in Salento (southern Italy) allow detailed study of the distribution of skeletal components and facies architecture. The lower Chattian Castro Limestone, previously considered as a fringing reef, is reinterpreted as a distally steepened ramp with a distal talus induced by a palaeo-escarpment in the substrate. Epiphytic biota and sediment dweller organisms thriving in seagrass meadows dominated production in the shallow-water euphotic zone. Seawards, large rotalids foraminifers dominated a detritic mesophotic zone. Near the edge of the escarpment, also in the mesophotic zone, luxurious growth of corals built discrete mounds with no evidences of wave-resistant growth fabrics. Basinward, 25° to 30° dipping clinobeds abut against the escarpment where coral rudstone/floatstone textures resulted from downfall of corals and sediments. The upper Chattian Porto Badisco Calcarenite represents a homoclinal ramp dominated by packstone textures. In the euphotic inner ramp, autochthonous biota suggests the occurrence of extensive seagrass meadows. Basinward, large rotalid packstone and small coral mounds developed in mesophotic conditions, and rhodolithic floatstone to rudstone and large lepidocyclinid packstone characterize the sediments of the deeper oligophotic zone. Comminuted skeletal debris, depleted of light-dependent organisms, typifies deposition in the dysphotic/aphotic zone. In both examples, middle ramp (meso-oligophotic zones) were the most prolific in terms of carbonate production, whereas shallow-water seagrass-related production (euphotic) was much less important. Corals built mounds, also in the mesophotic zone but never reached sea level. Hydrodynamic conditions in the meso-oligophotic zone are better explained by breaking of internal waves, and their induced up- and down-slope currents, instead of the surface storm waves.
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The classic image of Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers in Europe envisages them hunting large mammals in largely treeless landscapes. That is partly due to the nature of the surviving archaeological evidence, and the poor preservation of plant remains at such ancient sites. As this study illustrates, however, the potential of Upper Palaeolithic sites to yield macrofossil remains of plants gathered and processed by human groups has been underestimated. Large scale flotation of charred deposits from hearths such as that reported here at Dolní Vĕstonice II not only provides insight into the variety of flora that may have been locally available, but also suggests that some of it was being processed and consumed as food. The ability to exploit plant foods may have been a vital component in the successful colonisation of these cold European habitats.