LATE NEANDERTHAL SUBSISTENCE AT SAN BERNARDINO CAVE (BERICI HILLS-NORTHEASTERNITALY)INFERRED FROM ZOOARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA. Neanderthal subsistence in northeastern Italy

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Gabriele Terlato
Valentina Lubrano
Matteo Romandini
Ana B. Marín-Arroyo
Stefano Benazzi
Marco Peresani

Abstract

North-eastern Italy is a key region for the study of Neanderthal way of life over a wide timeframe, as attested by over 20 Middle Palaeolithic multi-layered sites in caves, rock shelters and at open-air sites. Here we contribute to increase our understanding of Neanderthal subsistence strategies through the study of the faunal assemblage of Unit II dated to the first half of Marine Isotopic Stage 3 (MIS3), from San Bernardino Cave. The site is located in the Berici Hills, at low altitude near the edge of a karstic plateau dissected by valleys and delimited by the alluvial lowland. Zooarchaeological and taphonomic analyses suggest that Neanderthal groups were the primary agent for the accumulation of mammal remains, and that hunting mainly focused on ungulates, such as Cervus elaphus and Capreolus capreolus. Forested environment sustained by mild climatic conditions is also inferred by micromammals evidence. Our data suggest a selective transport of the prey – even for the roe deer – which might have implied a long distance transportation from the site. Also, it might have been related to the age of the prey or to multiple preys hunted in a single episode. The Bayesian method applied to the analysis of skeletal profiles shows a high level of attrition at the site and a greater degree of processing appendicular skeleton. Neanderthals used San Bernardino Cave as a place where carcasses processing was finalized, after an initial process at the kill-site, and then prepared for consumption. Also, discarded bones were used for lithic manufacturing. The San Bernardino evidence can be compared with productive systems for exploiting available ungulate game from other regional-scale MIS 3 Middle Palaeolithic sites.

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How to Cite
Terlato, G., Lubrano, V., Romandini, M., Marín-Arroyo, A. B. ., Benazzi, S., & Peresani, M. (2021). LATE NEANDERTHAL SUBSISTENCE AT SAN BERNARDINO CAVE (BERICI HILLS-NORTHEASTERNITALY)INFERRED FROM ZOOARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA.: Neanderthal subsistence in northeastern Italy. Alpine and Mediterranean Quaternary, 34(2), 213–235. https://doi.org/10.26382/AMQ.2021.10
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