We value your privacy
We and our store and/or access information on a device, such as cookies and process personal data, such as unique identifiers and standard information sent by a device for personalised ads and content, ad and content measurement, and audience insights, as well as to develop and improve products.
With your permission we and our partners may use precise geolocation data and identification through device scanning. You may click to consent to our and our partners’ processing as described above. Alternatively you may access more detailed information and change your preferences before consenting or to refuse consenting.
Please note that some processing of your personal data may not require your consent, but you have a right to object to such processing. Your preferences will apply to this website only. You can change your preferences at any time by returning to this site or visit our privacy policy.
ARCHAEOLOGY
Remains of nine Neanderthals found in Italian cave
The fossil remains of nine Neanderthal men have been found in a cave in Italy, the culture ministry announced Saturday, a major discovery in the study of our ancient cousins.
Published: 8 May 2021 16:59 CEST
Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP
All the individuals found in the Guattari Cave in San Felice Circeo, located on the coast between Rome and Naples, are believed to be adults, although one might have been a youth.
Eight of them date to between 50,000 and 68,000 years ago, while the oldest could be 90,000 or 100,000 years old, the ministry said in a statement.
“Together with two others found in the past on the site, they bring the total number of individuals present in the Guattari Cave to 11, confirming it as one of the most significant sites in the world for the history of Neanderthal man,” the ministry said.
READ ALSO: Ancient Roman home and mosaics unearthed during Italian apartment renovation
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini hailed the find as “an extraordinary discovery which the whole world will be talking about”.
Francesco Di Mario, who led the excavation project, said it represented a Neanderthal population that would have been quite large in the area.
Local director of anthropology Mario Rubini said the discovery will shed “important light on the history of the peopling of Italy”.
“Neanderthal man is a fundamental stage in human evolution, representing the apex of a species and the first human society we can talk about,” he said.
The findings follow new research begun in October 2019 into the Guattari
Cave, which was found by accident by a group of workers in February 1939.
On visiting the site shortly afterwards, paleontologist Albert Carlo Blanc made a stunning find – a well-preserved skull of a Neanderthal man.
The cave had been closed off by an ancient landslide, preserving everything inside as a snapshot in time that is slowly offering up its secrets.
Recent excavations have also found thousands of animal bones, notably those
of hyenas and the prey they are believed to have brought back to the cave to eat or store as food.
There are remains of large mammals including elephant, rhinoceros, giant deer, cave bear, wild horses and aurochs – extinct bovines.
“Many of the bones found show clear signs of gnawing,” the ministry statement said.
AFP
news@thelocal.it
@thelocalitaly
RELATED TOPICS
ARCHAEOLOGY​HISTORY​FEATURE
CULTURE
Phallus of Pompeii: Italian art exhibition reveals ancient sexuality
ITALY EXPLAINED
Did Valentine’s Day really originate in Italy?
HISTORY
Italian archaeologists uncover slave room at Pompeii in ‘rare’ find
Pompeii archaeologists said Saturday they have unearthed the remains of a "slave room" in an exceptionally rare find at a Roman villa destroyed by Mount Vesuvius' eruption nearly 2,000 years ago.
Published: 6 November 2021 14:46 CET
Updated: 8 November 2021 15:51 CET
Archaeologists said the newly-discovered room in Pompeii likely housed slaves charged with maintaining chariots.  Photo: Archaeological Park of Pompeii press office.
The little room with three beds, a ceramic pot and a wooden chest was discovered during a dig at the Villa of Civita Giuliana, a suburban villa just a few hundred metres from the rest of the ancient city.
An almost intact ornate Roman chariot was discovered here at the start of this year, and archaeologists said Saturday that the room likely housed slaves charged with maintaining and prepping the chariot.
READ ALSO: 8 things you probably didn’t know about the Romans
“This is a window into the precarious reality of people who rarely appear in historical sources, written almost exclusively by men belonging to the elite,” said Pompeii’s director general Gabriel Zuchtriegel.
Photo: Archaeological Park of Pompeii press office.
The “unique testimony” into how “the weakest in the ancient society lived… is certainly one of the most exciting discoveries in my life as an archaeologist,” he said in a press release.
Pompeii was buried in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing those who hadn’t managed to leave the city in time. They were either crushed by collapsing buildings or killed by thermal shock.
The 16-square metre (170-square feet) room was a cross between a bedroom and a storeroom: as well as three beds – one of which was child sized – there were eight amphorae, stashed in a corner.
Photo: Archaeological Park of Pompeii press office.
The wooden chest held metal and fabric objects that seem to be part of the harnesses of the chariot horses, and a chariot shaft was found resting on one of the beds.
The remains of three horses were found in a stable in a dig earlier this year.
“The room grants us a rare insight into the daily reality of slaves, thanks to the exceptional state of preservation of the room,” the Pompeii archaeological park said.
READ ALSO: Four civilizations in Italy that pre-date the Roman Empire
Image: Archaeological Park of Pompeii press office.
Experts had been able to make plaster casts of the beds and other objects in perishable materials which left their imprint in the cinerite — the rock made of volcanic ash — that covered them, it said.
The beds were made of several roughly worked wooden planks, which could be adjusted according to the height of the person who used them.
The webbed bases of the beds were made of ropes, covered by blankets.
While two were around 1.7 metres long, one measured just 1.4 metres, and may therefore have belonged to a child.
The archaeological park said the three slaves may have been a family.
Archaeologists found several personal objects under the beds, including amphorae for private things, ceramic jugs and what might be a chamber pot.
The room was lit by a small upper window, and there are no traces or wall decorations, just a mark believed to have been left by a lantern hung on a wall.
“This incredible new discovery at Pompeii demonstrates that today the archaeological site has become not only one of the most desirable visitor destinations in the world, but also a place where research is carried out and new and experimental technologies are employed,” said Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.
“Thanks to this important new discovery, our knowledge of the daily life of ancient Pompeians has been enriched, particularly of that element of society about which little is known even today. Pompeii is a model of study that is unique in the world.”
READ ALSO: Why is Italy called Italy?
The excavation is part of a programme launched in 2017 aimed at fighting illegal activity in the area, including tunnel digging to reach artefacts that can be sold on illicit markets.
The Villa of Civita Giuliana had been the target of systematic looting for years. There was evidence some of the “archaeological heritage” in this so-called Slave Room had also been lost to looters, the park said.
Damage by grave robbers in the villa had been estimated so far at almost two million euros ($2.3 million), it added.
AFP/The Local
news@thelocal.it
@thelocalitaly
SHOW COMMENTS
HISTORY
Italian archaeologists uncover slave room at Pompeii in ‘rare’ find
LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
Why is Italy called Italy?
Get our daily news roundup straight in your inbox
By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address to send you newsletters as well as information and offers related to your account.
The Local Europe AB
Vasagatan 10
111 20 Stockholm
Sweden
Latest newsCovid-19Practical tipsLearn about ItalyLearning ItalianTravel newsMy accountStudent accessCorporateNewslettersNewslettersHelp centerGift voucherSearch siteContact usWho we areSend us a storyAdvertise with usAustriaEuropeGermanyNorwaySwedenDenmarkFranceItalySpainSwitzerlandJobs in ItalyNoticeboard