The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition, between 50 000 and 40 000 years ago, is a period of important ecological and cultural changes. In this framework, the Rock Shelter of Uluzzo C (Apulia, southern Italy) represents an important site due to Late Mousterian and Uluzzian evidence preserved in its stratigraphic sequence. Here, we present the results of a multidisciplinary analysis performed on the materials collected between 2016 and 2018 from the Uluzzian stratigraphic units (SUs) 3, 15 and 17. The analysis involved lithic technology, use-wear, zooarchaeology, ancient DNA of sediments and palaeoproteomics, completed by quartz single-grain optically stimulated luminescence dating of the cave sediments. The lithic assemblage is characterized by a volumetric production and a debitage with no or little management of the convexities (by using the bipolar technique), with the objective to produce bladelets and flakelets. The zooarchaeological study found evidence of butchery activity and of the possible exploitation of marine resources, while drawing a picture of a patchy landscape, composed of open forests and dry open environments surrounding the shelter. Ancient mitochondrial DNA from two mammalian taxa were recovered from the sediments. Preliminary zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry results are consistent with ancient DNA and zooarchaeological taxonomic information, while further palaeoproteomics investigations are ongoing. Our new data from the re-discovery of the Uluzzo C Rock Shelter represent an important contribution to better understand the meaning of the Uluzzian in the context of the Middle/Upper Palaeolithic transition in south-eastern Italy.
- ancient DNA of sediment
- lithic technology