Discovered by Paolo Emilio Stasi over a century ago, Grotta Romanelli established anthropic timeframes relative to the Mousterian and final Epigravettian, the latter (layers E-A) relevant to the cultural facies discovered here for the first time and named “Romanellian”.
For the Romanellian stratigraphy we have more datings, problematic:
layer B: 11,930 ± 520; layer A: 11,800 ± 600 and 9,050 ± 100 (laboratory C14 of Rome);
layer D: 10,640 ± 100; layer C2: 9,790 ± 80; layer A2: 9,880 ± 100 (laboratory C14 of Groningen).
Grotta Romanelli was the first Italian site to have returned Palaeolithic figurative evidence, both portable and rock art. There are 111 pieces of portable evidence (a painted block and 110 engraved stones), coming from an Epigravettian deposit, mostly from the layer C level 2. This production contributes to the definition of the physiognomy and the iconographic structure of the figurative Romanellian facies in Salento, along with the repertoire of Grotta del Cavallo. Some significant examples are presented here.
The chronology of the parietal engravings can be hypothesised, with good approximation, based on the reference of the stratigraphic levels with production of the final Upper Palaeolithic Romanellian facies and of the iconographic similarities between some parietal images and portable geometric markings.
The production of Grotta Romanelli, acquired over time, is considered one of the major examples of the so-called “Mediterranean province” according to Graziosi: precisely taking the figures of Romanelli as a paradigm and their similarities to those of Parpalló, Spain, Graziosi coined the definition of “Mediterranean art” in 1956.