The project involves survey in Italy and field investigations of key archaeological sites dating to the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic Transition, paleoecological, zooarchaeological, paleoanthropological and isotope analyses, studies of pigments, ornaments, lithic and bone tools, as well as statistical modeling using cutting-edge protocols. The results of this work will be of pivotal importance for understanding a key period in European prehistory and, more generally, the biocultural, adaptive and ecological characteristics that make our species successful and unique. It implies that this project will be crucial for understanding the replacement of all hominin species by AMHs around the world.
This project has the following interrelated primary objectives:
- To track the migratory routes and to reconstruct the climatic and environmental conditions linked to the earliest AMH migrations in order to establish when they reached Southern Europe, and in particular Italy.
- To understand the biocultural adaptations of AMH in Italy. Specifically, we will analyse the cultural/technological behaviours, subsistence strategies and mobility patterns employed by AMHs that led them to successfully adapt to different eco-geographic contexts, and how these strategies differ from those used by Neandertals. Ultimately, we aim to assess the socio-cultural impact of the first European AMHs with respect to Neandertals, and the potential interaction between the two groups.
- To trace the last evidence of Neandertals and to disentangle the roles played by the climate, the eco-system and the physical geography in the process that ultimately led to the demise of Neandertals.