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2020-11-05 17:13:18   •   ID: 2211

Back to the Gargano Again- A Handaxe from the Carpino Countryside

Figure 1
Figure 2
This is a 12 cm long, white patinated Acheulian Biface, made on Flint from the Carpino vicinity. It was made by soft hammer technique, is thin and symmetric and not made of Limestone, which seems by far the most important raw material for the production of handaxes in South Italy.

Of all Italian regions, Apulia is perhaps one of the most well-known for the variety of its environments and demographic intensity as far as the prehistoric populations are concerned.

The oldest lithic complexes in the region belong to the Lower Paleolithic and are mostly concentrated in the Gargano area- see here: 1683 , here: 1596 , and here: 1684 .

Carpino (Pugliese: Carpìne) is a coastal town and comune of the Italian region of Apulia, lying on the Gargano peninsula.

Basically, the Gargano offers a lot of Acheulian scatters of unknown age. Beside the findings in the lower strata at Paglicci, suggested to come from the MIS 7, there is not a single undisturbed stratified site. Maybe new findings, reexcavation of Paglicci and new scientific methods may settle some of these problems.

Currently Italian researchers use techno-typological classifications, also used in other parts of the Old Word; namely they suggest that:

  • Flat, thin, symmetric Handaxes are later than irregular, rough and trihedral handaxes


  • Early ensembles are often characterized by opportunistic cores, choppers and chopping tools


  • Handaxes, made by Hammer Techniques are earlier than Handaxes and the use of a Soft Hammer


  • The advent of the Levallois technique in Acheulian ensembles is late


I personally think that One shouldn't give too much to that...

Typological seriation of Handaxe ensembles have proven to be unreliable, and the synthesis of dating the Gargano Acheulian by Typology has failed.

Arturo Palma di Cesnola (1928-2019), the great excavator of Paglicci and other South Italian Paleolithic sites was the last who tried, as a child of his time, to organize the Acheulian Material of the Gargano including the Umbra Forest and in other locations in the provinces of Foggia and Bari to different diachronic trends.

According to him our Handaxe fits into the definition of the "Macchito Acheulian ", characterized by refined, mostly cordiform and elongated Bifaces and a flake industry, based on Levallois technique.

Similar examples are known from Paglicci Strata 3/4

Because the wider use of true Levallois operational sequences in W-Europe is to be found not before MIS8- this Handaxe may be rather late in the overall Acheulian record (maybe MIS 8/7).

Surf the Blog for Post-Acheulian Complexes in the Gargano:

See here: 1467 , here: 1394 and here 1256 , here: 1190 , and here: 1417

Suggested Reading:

Arturo Palma di Cesnola: paléolithique inférieur et moyen en Italie (1996)

Paleolithic Italy: Advanced studies on early human adaptations in the Apennine peninsula Edited by Valentina Borgia & Emanuela Cristiani ; 2018