Castro (LE) - Puglia

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.

Historical framework
Upper Paleolithic

Coinciding with the arrival of the species Homo sapiens in Europe was the most recent phase of the Paleolithic (between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago). Here, we see a break with the previous cultural traditions of the Neanderthals, and the beginning of a series of utilitarian and symbolic practices which developed in the millennia leading up to the arrival of the Neolithic. The presence of strategically located settlements, subsistence practices based on hunting and gathering, the modality of funerary rites and the beginning of the figurative art allow us to follow the transformation of the earliest sapiens cultures.


Final Epigravettian

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