Italy Prehistory – Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic
The most important discoveries took place in Liguria. At the Balzi Rossi excavations by AC Blanc and L. Cardini at Riparo Mochi, they revealed a cultural succession similar to the French one, in which above the Mousterian and separated from it and between them by sterile layers we have: 1) a industry of the lower Périgordian type, with tiny blades with very fine reverse retouching and small large chips with retouching at the base; 2) an average Aurignacian type level with nose scratchers, etc.; 3) an industry of the upper Perigordian type with a microlithic tendency, not geometrizing, with tiny razor blades with riveted backs, various burins, etc.; 4) a macrolithic industry with large scrapers, perhaps referable to the upper Magdalenian, and finally, 5) on the surface, a Mesolithic geometrising hypermicrolytic industry (see Sauveterrian) with still cold fauna (ibex, marmot). The so-called “Grimaldian” would therefore seem today to be the product of the confusion of various industries of the upper Paleolithic, whose distinction would not have been recognized in previous excavations.
An industry of the Aurignacian type, or rather the upper Périgordian type, with knives with overturned backs and so on. it came to light in the Finale area at the Arma dell’Aquila and the Arene Candide. In this cavern, on the Pleistocene deposit that contains it lie Holocene layers, characterized by current wild fauna and a lithic industry of the Mesolithic type, but notably different from that of the upper layer of the Riparo M0chi due to the absence of microbills and types geometrizing, in which small scratchers on short blades and ocher-colored pebbles abound that can somehow come close to those of Mas d’Azil, without having the characteristic designs. The seriousness with respect to the Mochi shelter is attested by the fauna in which every cold element has now disappeared. In the Aurignacian layer, the very rich burial of a young chief lying on an ocher bed appeared, with boulders placed on his hands and feet (fixation of the corpse). He wore a cap of pot-shells, still held a large flint blade, and had four elk horn command sticks around his chest. In the Mesolithic layers there was an authentic necropolis, with cromagnonoid-type skeletons, supine on a bed of ocher, and they too surrounded by an abundant kit (millstones and pebbles dyed ocher, flints, bone daggers, perforated deer teeth, etc.); numerous squirrel vertebrae found near a boy’s neck reveal the presence of a fur collar. New stations have been reported almost everywhere. The Fossellone cave (Circeo) gave a typical average Aurignacian, others (Quinzano, Lake Massaciuccoli, Tane del Diavolo di Parrano near Orvieto, Canale Mussolini and Grottacce in the Agro Pontino, Costiera di Sperlonga, C. Palinuro, Grotta S. Croce di Bisceglie, Zinzulosa di Otranto, Soleto, Grotta dei Pipistrelli di Matera) have given horizons referable rather to the upper Aurignacian. In Sicily a rigorous revision of the materials and of some deposits (S. Teodoro, Addaura) confirmed the absence of the Mousterian, still questioned by some. InS. Teodoro some skeletons came to light, the first Paleolithic on the island, in which Graziosi recognizes characters similar to those of the current Mediterranean populations, a human type that is highlighted for the first time in the Upper Paleolithic.
Various upper Paleolithic stations, with significantly different facies, have also been identified in the south-eastern cusp of the island, where this culture seemed absent. The shelter of the Fontana Nuova (Marina di Ragusa) seems to refer to the middle Aurignacian, others (Palazzolo Acreide, Canicattini, Sortino, Grotta Lazzaro di Modica) to the upper Aurignacian. Remarkable in Grotta Corruggi (Pachino) is the richness and variety of types, including microlithic ones, to be compared with the well-known shelter of the Castello di Termini Imerese.
The discoveries in the field of Quaternary art are remarkable. To the Balzi Rossi the already known finds of female statuettes and pebbles and bones with engravings were added (noted by L. Cardini among the materials of the Museum of Menton) pebbles with geometric graffiti or with schematic stylizations of the human figure similar to that of Grotta Romanelli. To the well-known female statuette of Savignano sul Panaro was added another one from Chiozza di Scandiano, unfortunately not coming from cultural strata of certain dating, and a third one of unknown origin (Trasimeno?). To the graffitied figures of Grotta Romanelli, already known for some time (bovid, female schematic profiles), blocks engraved with animalistic (feline and wild boar) and geometric figures have been added, and a block painted with schematic figures. Engraved pebbles were collected in Grotta S. Croce (Bisceglie). A painted Azilian-type pebble was collected by Buchner at the Grotta delle Felci (Capri). Finally a schematic wall painting was identified by AC Blanc at Arnalo dei Bufali (Sezze Romano).