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Late Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers in the Central Mediterranean: new archaeological and genetic data from the Late Epigravettian burial Oriente C (Favignana, Sicily)

By Giulio Catalano, Domenico Lo Vetro, Pier Francesco Fabbri, Swapan Mallick, David Reich, Nadin Rohland, Luca Sineo, Iain Mathieson, Fabio Martini

Posted 04 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/692871 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2020.01.025)

Grotta d'Oriente, a small coastal cave located on the island of Favignana (Sicily, Italy) is a key site for the study of the early human colonization of Sicily. The individual known as Oriente C was found in the lower portion of an anthropogenic deposit containing typical local Late Upper Palaeolithic (Late Epigravettian) stone assemblages. Two radiocarbon dates on charcoal from the deposit containing the burial are consistent with the archaeological context and refer Oriente C to a period spanning about 14,200-13,800 cal. BP. Anatomical features are close to those of Late Upper Palaeolithic populations of the Mediterranean and show strong affinity with Palaeolithic individuals of San Teodoro. Here we present new ancient DNA data from Oriente C. Our results, confirming previous genetic analysis, suggest a substantial genetic homogeneity among Late Epigravettian hunter-gatherer populations of Central Mediterranean, presumably as a consequence of continuous gene flow among different groups, or a range expansion following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).

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