Study shows Mediterranean exploration in late Mesolithic

University of Salento says ENEA team made discovery in Marettimo

01 October, 16:34

    LECCE - Humans were already exploring the Mediterranean in search of food and new lands 8,600 years ago, in the late Mestolithic period, and not starting in the Neolithic as previously thought, according to a study published in the journal Earth Science Reviews.
    The study used the remains of a meal composed of a deer jaw and various shellfish and set the date of exploration back about 1,600 years.
    The data was processed by the Applied Physics Dating and Diagnostics Centre (CEDAD) at the University of Salento.
    It said in a statement that the discovery was made in the Grotta del Tuono cave in Marettimo by a team from the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA).
    The statement said the study "allowed to recreate, beginning from the last ice age, the coastal morphology of the Aegadian Islands in Sicily, establishing that about 20,000 years ago Favignana and Levanzo were connected to Sicily while Marettimo was separated by a narrow canal".
    "The dating of the remains of the meal was essential, because this meant establishing the date that humans were frequenting the island," it said.
    CEDAD dated the remains by using a "radiocarbon method with the use of a three-million-volt particle accelerator", said Gianluca Quarta, a professor of applied physics at the University of Salento and a co-author of the study.
    "Dating was carried out on mollusc shells (Patella), on bones, and on dental enamel, while the interpretation of the experimental data required a deeper discussion with various scientists involved, and the results were surprising," Quarta said.
    CEDAD director Lucio Calcagnile said the study, which was coordinated by Fabrizio Antonioli of ENEA, "is part of a very fruitful collaboration that has involved for some time various researchers from La Sapienza University of Rome, the University of Palermo, the University of Trieste, and the Superintendency of the Sea", including geologists, paleontologists, and archaeologists, working alongside CEDAD physicists.

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