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2016-07-08 04:17:33   •   ID: 1467

Lost and Found: Epigravettian Point from the Gargano peninsula

Figure 1
In South-Western Europe, between ca. 22 k.a. and 20 k.a cal BP, human groups responded to LGM environmental conditions by developing a suite of new technologies characterized by a variety of diagnostic projectile points produced by bifacial retouch, which define the Solutrean technocomplex.

In the regions of South- East Europe, hunter-gatherers of the LGM produced a different lithic technology, the early Epigravettian, characterized by shouldered and backed projectile points, produced by unifacial retouch most probably being derived from the preceding Gravettian technocomplex.

Bifacial leaf-shaped points are rare and have been recovered from only a few sites in northern Italy. Reconstructions of their ecological niches indicate that both Entities overlap broadly, but that the Solutrean was able to exploit colder and more humid areas, corresponding to areas with permanent permafrost during the LGM.

In contrast, the Epigravettian in Italia and the Balkans seems to have been better adapted to areas characterized by discontinuous permafrost and seasonal freezing.

No technocomplex was completely adapted to the more southerly dry and relatively warmer Mediterranean environments during the LGM. The Gargano is a coastal area of great beauty on the Adriatic Sea in the Puglia province of Foggia in South Italy.

The Monte Gargano forms the backbone of the large peninsula. Most of it is now a national park, the Parco Nazionale del Gargano.

Figure 2
Figure 2 displays the The Baia delle Zagare at September  2011. The Gargano peninsula, which is mostly mountainous, was once an island, and is still separated from the mainland by a plain called Tavoliere delle Puglie.

On the east it forms the Bay of Manfredonia. The Gargano promontory tis rich in karst phenomena like caves, abris and dolines. While in the earlier Holocene the promontory was entirely covered with forests, now they represent only the 15% of its original surface area: the most important woodland in the Park is Foresta Umbra.

Gargano is not only known for its mountains and the Parco Nazionale, but even more for its 200 kilometers long coastline.

A coast of sandy beaches, pine woods, bays, coves, cliffs, dunes, caves, and not least the famous faraglioni, white rocks emerging from the blue of the sea in the Baia dei Mergoli and the Baia delle Zagare, where I was happy to stay for some days.

This almost microlithic, 2,5 cm long, shouldered point is a surface find from a small rock shelter two km north of the Baia delle Zagare.

Abris are numerous in the Foresta Umbra and systematic archaeological surveys seem not to be have started till now.

The armature can be compared to some similar projectiles that are present in the “Epigravettien ancien” of the nearby Grotta Paglicci. Excavated in the 1960–90ies, this site has an almost complete and long sequence spanning the whole of the Upper Paleolithic, being especially rich in the period of the LGM.

Grotta Paglicci is uniquely located in what would have been the hinterland of the now submerged Adriatic plain. During the LGM the level of the Adriatic Sea was 15-20 m lower than today.

The prospection of smaller epiphermal contemporaneous sites of the Gargano peninsula, like the abris north of Baia delle Zagare would certainly broaden our understanding of subsistence strategies and landscape use, especially during the harsh conditions of the LGM.

Figure 3: An important early work about the Italian Paleolithic:
Figure 3

Proveniance: Collection J. Meller