Research Team

P.I.

Stefano Benazzi: Full Professor in physical anthropology at the University of Bologna, with special interest in paleoanthropology, bioarchaeology and biomechanics. He is particularly interested in the latest period of human evolution (Middle and Upper Palaeolithic periods), the appearance of modern humans in Europe and the demise of Neandertals. Since teeth are the most frequent human fossil remains found in the archaeological record, he is particularly focused on developing computer-based methods for dental morphometric analysis, which are suitable in paleoanthropology for taxonomical assessment. He uses virtual approaches and geometric morphometric methods for the purposes of bone reconstruction and shape analysis of skeletal remains. He finds the relationship between function and morphology in primate dentition very intriguing and he wants to address this issue by means of finite element methods and macrowear analysis.

Contacts:

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Research Fellow

Eugenio Bortolini: archaeologist with a strong interest in the mechanisms of adoption and transmission of culture in both archaeological and contemporary contexts. In particular, he is focused on applying and developing quantitative methods to investigate evolutionary processes of cultural change, population movement, human interaction, and gene-culture coevolution at different scales. He has been using statistical techniques to study variability in prehistoric funerary architecture, archaeological ceramic materials, modern language, and traditional folktales of Eurasia. He thinks that the encounter between anatomically modern humans and Neandertals can be the perfect context to address long-standing questions on cultural admixture, population replacement, and the construction of biocultual niches. Eugenio is currently junior Assistant Professor at the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Bologna.

Contacts:

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Gregorio Oxilia: Paleoanthropologist with a strong interest in evolutionary medicine with particular attention to the physiologic individual occlusion. In particular, he is focused on the study of dynamic and static function of masticatory system in order to understand cranio-facial asymmetries linked to post-cranial anomalies. The aim of his researches is to find 1) the possible link between palatal morphology and tongue posture during swallowing, speeching, malocclusion and posture, 2) relation among skull bones and vertebral column, 3) to what extent locomotion interact with occlusion and vice versa. All these points will be useful to explain in which terms our specie (H. sapiens) differ to hominid fossils, explaining cranial and post-cranial asymmetries through a holistic view. Gregorio is currently junior Assistant Professor at the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Bologna.

Contacts:

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Matteo Romandini is a Post Doctoral researcher at University of Bologna, Director of the archaeological excavation at the Broion Shelter site (Berici Hills, VI) and Director of the “Museo della Grotta di Pradis” (Comune di Clauzetto, PN). His main research interest is on archaezoological and taphonomic studies of faunal remains. He currently coordinates research projects focused on human peopling in Italy during the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition by investigating Homo Neanderthalensis – Homo Sapiens bio-cultural substitution and Late-glacial and early Holocene hunter-gatherer settlement dynamics and strategics.

Contacts:

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Simona Arrighi: ERC-Postdoctoral  Researcher. Her main research interests are centred on the evolution of human behaviour investigated through use-wear analysis of prehistoric lithic and bone tools, with a particular interest in Palaeolithic assemblages. She is also developing new protocols for the application of 3D microscopy to the study of Palaeolithic engraved art.

Contacts:

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Federica Badino is a Post Doctoral researcher at the University of Bologna. She is a paleoecologist. Her research aims to reconstruct quaternary vegetation with special reference to the use of plants as paleoclimate proxies. She uses pollen and other microbiological particles extracted from sediments to describe past ecosystems and human-environmental interaction. She is also interested in pollen-climate studies along altitudinal gradients, radiocarbon-based chronologies and climate quantitative reconstructions.

Contacts:

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Federico Lugli is an anthropologist with a strong background in isotope geochemistry and analytical techniques. His research focuses on the use of isotope geochemistry to unravel the interaction between human/animal and environment. In particular, he is interested in the use of strontium isotope analyses of teeth to decrypt mobility patterns and past migrations, but also in the use of stable isotopes of collagen to investigate human palaeodiet. From a methodological point of view, he is involved in the development of new methods for high precision and resolution laser ablation ICP mass spectrometry analyses of phosphates, carbonates and other geological/biological specimens. In this sense, he set up e.g. the method to analyze Sr isotopes by LA‒MC‒ICP‒MS of human and animal teeth at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna.

Contacts:

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Giulia Marciani is an archaeologist specialised in the study of lithic artefacts.She is skilled in studying lithic tools, using different methods, i.e. typology, technology, Raw Material Units as well as techno-functional and refitting analysis. She is convinced that thanks to the application of combined method we gain a comprehensive view on techno-cultural behaviours, as we are able to understand and describe not only the production of the lithic objects but also the human reality out of which they were created. Her research aims to interpret the variations of the last Neanderthals and the Anatomically Modern Humans stone tools through the analyses of lithic assemblages referable to the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition. Giulia is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna.

Contacts:

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Phd Students

Carla Figus is a physical anthropologist with a particular interest in the study of non-adult human remains. Her research focuses on the health of non-adults, neonatal and postnatal mortality, child growth and development. She has an additional interest in the ontogenetic changes of the foot linked to the development of bipedalism. She is currently a doctoral student at the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Bologna (Ravenna Campus).

Contacts:

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Sara Silvestrini graduated with a thesis in ancient DNA and now she is a PhD student at the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Bologna (Ravenna Campus). She has a strong interest in the study of biomolecules. Her research focuses on understanding the relationship between human groups and their interaction with fauna in Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition contexts using a molecular barcode method (ZooMS) to identify the species of fragmentary archaeological bones.

Contacts:

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Collaborators

Marco Peresani: Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities, Section of Prehistory and Anthropology at the University of Ferrara. Since 1993 he designs and coordinates research projects focused on the human populations in central Italy and the Alps, specifically on Neanderthal – Anatomically Modern Humans bio-cultural substitution and on the Late Glacial and Early Holocene hunter-gatherer settlement dynamics. As a geoarcheologist he has conducted fieldwork and studies on the depositional and post-depositional processes at several key sites. Using lithic technology as primary research tool, he has revealed the existence of behavioural variability across the Middle and the Upper Palaeolithic. Research involves numerous sites, among which primarily Grotta di Fumane and many others in Friuli and Veneto. Publication list includes edited books and over 250 papers in Italian, English and French published as articles in peer-review journals.

Contacts:

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Fabio Negrino: Senior Lecturer in the Dipartimento di Antichità, Filosofia e Storia of the University of Genoa (Italy). His field of research is focused both on Italian Middle-Upper Palaeolithic, with special attention on Neandertal-AMH Transition, and on Neolithic-Copper Age lithics. He conducts fieldwork in Italy, being the director of the excavation at the Palaeolithic-Copper Age site of Ronco del Gatto and co-director at Riparo Bombrini and Arma Veirana. He also conducted fieldwork in Oman and in Pakistan. He has published different papers about the Italian and Asian Palaeolithic, paying attention to the lithic production systems, and about Neolithic and Copper Age sites. He received his Ph.D. in Rome from the University La Sapienza and was a postdoctoral research at the University of Pisa. He is also invited professor at the Master of Préhistoire, Paléoenvironnement et Archéosciences at the University of Nice (CEPAM – CNRS; France).

Contacts:

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Adriana Moroni: Researcher at the University of Siena. Her main research interests are concerned with the pre-protohistoric human occupation of Central-Southern Italy in the field of the material culture studies with a special focus on the behavior of Neandertal and Early Modern Human populations during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition.

Contacts:

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Annamaria Ronchitelli: Associated professor at the University of Siena. She represents Italy in the International Union of the Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, Commission 8 (Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia). Since 1976 she has been carrying out as scientific director several prehistoric excavations in Middle and Upper Palaeolithic sites, mainly in Apulia and Campania. Her main research interests are concerned with lithic studies and Palaeolithic living floors.

Contacts:

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Paolo Boscato: Researcher at the University of Siena. He created the Archaeozoological laboratory of the Department of Physical, Earth and Environmental Science. His main research interests are related to the Archaeozoological study of macromammals in prehistoric deposits: activities of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic populations (hunting, gathering, butchering, bone processing) and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.

Contacts:

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Anna Cipriani is an Associate Professor of Geochemistry and Volcanology in the Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, where she teaches undergraduate and master students how chemical elements interact and behave on and within the Earth.

Her main expertise is in the use of isotope and elemental geochemistry to investigate the processes of oceanic crust creation and evolution at mid ocean ridges, by examining mantle and crustal rocks outcropping at the ocean floor and in ophiolite sequences. She also uses Sr isotopes to date marine carbonates and fossils through the principles of Sr isotope stratigraphy. More recently, her work has broadened to include the application of geochemical analyses in archaeology, environmental and forensic studies. She is also actively participating in geo-wiki.org, a project that uses open source information and collection of crowdsourced spatial data to improve the interpretation of satellite imagery to better detect changes occurring on the Earth’s surface.

In the SUCCESS project, Anna and her collaborators will apply modern isotope geochemistry techniques to examine patterns of human mobility.

Contacts:
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Laboratory Website

Cesare Ravazzi is a Senior Researcher at the National Research Council of Italy, Institute for the Dynamics of the Environmental processes, where he lead the Research group on Vegetation, Climate and Human Stratigraphy. His main interests span the whole range of the Quaternary palaeoecology using palaeobotanical, palynological techniques and integrated stratigraphy. He also drives attention to application of palaeoecology to reconstructing past ecosystems, climates, and human-environment interactions, both in continental Europe and the Macaronesian Islands. He has accomplished more than 20 research projects. Recent projects includes Glacial and paraglacial evolution and forest ecosystems and dynamics in the Alps during the Last Glacial Maximum; the last glacial-interglacial cycle in the lake and the foreland record of the Venetian-Friulian Plain; the evolution of the fluvial network in the central Po plain during the last 40 ka; deep perforations in the Alpine Valley (ICDP-DOVE principal investigator); human impact and economy of the pile dwelling cultures, Garda area, N-Italy; palaeoecology of high-altitude basins in Valle d’Aosta focusing on origin of Alpine pastures and their evolution between the Copper and the Bronze Age. Author of 137 scientific papers – 40 on ISI journals – and referee of 12 international journals.

Contacts:

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Roberta Pini is a Researcher at the Research Council of Italy, Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes (IDPA, Milano), she is a member of the Research Group on Vegetation, Climate and Human Stratigraphy, Laboratory of Palynology and Palaeoecology. PhD in Earth Sciences at the University of Milano Bicocca with a project on “Pleistocene pollen stratigraphy of the Po Plain”, since 2007 she is Professor in Palynology at the course in Natural Sciences, University of Milano. She is interested in developing the use of fossil plants as indicators of past environmental and climate conditions during the Quaternary. Her research activity focus on stratigraphic and paleoecological analysis of continuous sedimentary archives to reconstruct ancient environments and climate in Northern Italy and to highlight the effects of both natural variability and human pressure in shaping modern landscapes. She authored 58 scientific papers (25 on ISI journals) and acts as reviewers for 13 national and international journals.

Contacts:

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Robin Feeney: Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Human Anatomy UCD School of Medicine.

Research interests: My research centres on biological variation and evolution in humans, other living primates and our ancient ancestors from skeletal material. My expertise is in Dental Anthropology, with research interests in comparative biology.

Using cutting-edge imaging technology to examine size and shape variation in hard tissues, my research aims to understand the sources of variation in skeletal and dental morphology and the associated evolutionary changes in the human lineage. I further aim to extend this knowledge for biomedical applications to human health.

Contacts:
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 Enza E. Spinapolice: is a palaeolithic archaeologist, broadly fascinated by the archaeological and behavioural signatures of “What makes us humans”. Her research focus is on the origins of modern humans, the Neanderthal extinction, and the concept of behavioural modernity. She is particularly interested in the interactions between culture and biological evolution, as well as in the cultural, social and demographic processes of prehistoric hunter-gatherers from both a synchronic and diachronic perspective. After finishing a jointed Phd in Rome Sapienza and Bordeaux 1, she has been Marie Curie Fellow and then research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, and later at the Leverhume Center for Human Evolutionary Studies in Cambridge. Since 2015 she is Researcher at the Department of Ancient Studies in Sapienza, as a Montalcini fellow, and PI of the (H)ORIGIN project.

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Administrative staff

Flavia Zanon:  is a project manager specialized in research projects support and valorisation. She is currently part of the staff of the Research and Third Mission Division of the University of Bologna. She holds a PhD in international studies, with a specialisation on EU policies and institutions.

Contacts:
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