More than 80 years after the discovery of the Guattari Cave in San Felice Circeo (Latina), a research by the Archaeological Superintendence of Frosinone and Latina in collaboration with the University of Tor Vergata has led to the discovery of fossil finds “attributable to 9 individuals of man of Neanderthal “. In addition, remains of hyena, rhino, elephant, giant deer, cave bear and other animals emerged. The research began in October 2019. Of the 9 individuals of Neanderthals, 8 are datable between 50,000 and 68,000 years ago and one, the oldest, is datable between 100,000 and 90,000 years ago. These, together with the other two found in the past on the site, bring to 11 the total number of individuals present in the Guattari Cave, which thus confirms itself as one of the most significant places in the world for the history of Neanderthal man. “An extraordinary discovery that the whole world will talk about – said Minister Dario Franceschini – because it enriches research on Neanderthals. It is the result of the work of our Superintendency together with universities and research bodies, truly an exceptional thing. “” With this excavation campaign we have found numerous individuals, a discovery that will shed an important light on the history of the population of Italy . Neanderthal man is a fundamental stage of human evolution, he represents the apex of a species and is the first human society we can talk about “, explained Mario Rubini, director of the anthropology service of the Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Frosinone and Latina. As for the remains of the nine men discovered, “they are all adult individuals – explained Francesco Di Mario, official archaeologist of the Superintendence for the provinces of Frosinone and Latina and director of excavation and use of the Guattari cave – except one perhaps at a young age. It is a satisfactory representation of a population that must have been quite large in the area. We are carrying out studies and analyzes, not only genetic, with much more advanced techniques than in Blanc’s time, capable of revealing a lot of information. “” The geological and sedimentological study of this deposit – highlighted Mario Rolfo, professor of prehistoric archeology ca of the University of Rome Tor Vergata – will make us understand the climatic changes that took place between 120 thousand and 60 thousand years ago, through the study of animal species and pollens, allowing us to reconstruct the history of the Circeo and the Pontine plain ”. The characteristic of this place is that of allowing a real journey through time: today’s conditions are substantially the same as 50,000 years ago and the presence of fossils makes the cave an exceptional database. Recent excavations have returned thousands of animal bone finds that enrich the reconstruction of the fauna, environment and climate. In addition to abundant hyena remains, various groups of large mammals have been determined including: the aurochs, the large extinct bovine, which is one of the prevalent species together with the red deer; but also the remains of rhinoceros, elephant, giant deer (Megaloceros), cave bear, and wild horses. The presence of these species accords well with the age of about 50,000 years ago, when the hyena dragged its prey into the den using the cave as a shelter and food storage. In fact, many of the bones found show clear signs of gnawing. Investigations are still ongoing and involve numerous scholars from various and important national research bodies: INGV, CNR / IGAG, University of Pisa, University of Rome La Sapienza. Work is being done to reconstruct the paleoecological picture of the Pontine plain between 125,000 and about 50,000 years ago, when our extinct “cousins” frequented the Lazio region. The research, for the first time, also concerned parts of the cave that had never been studied, including also what the anthropologist Alberto Carlo Blanc called “Pond” due to the presence of water in the winter months. In that area several human remains were found, including a skull cap, a fragment of the occipital, fragments of the skull (including two hemifrontals), fragments of the mandible, two teeth, three partial femurs and other fragments in identification course.Biological analyzes and genetic research will allow us to reconstruct the vegetation, climate and environment in which our ancestors lived. Isotopic analyzes will allow us to reconstruct the diet of the animal species examined and the ancient diet of Neanderthal man. Excavations and investigations have also been extended to the outside of the cave where stratigraphies and paleosurfaces dating back to 60,000 have been identified. and the 125 thousand years ago that testify the moments of life of the Neanderthal man, the places where they stationed and where, lighting the fire and ate their own prey. The discovery of charcoal and burnt animal bones in fact authorizes the hypothesis of the presence of a structured hearth. The research that the Ministry of Culture is still conducting in the area systemically addresses all aspects of the life of the Neanderthals and of the Lazio region and confirms, once again, the importance of Circeo for the knowledge of Neanderthal man at the European and world level.
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