Aspects of lithic assemblage variability in the late Palaeolithic of south-east Italy
This thesis concerns late Palaeolithic settlement in the region of Puglia, south-east Italy, at the close of the Pleistocene. Puglia comprises three sub-regions which contain sites of this period: the Salento peninsula, the Murge, and the Gargano promontory. The late Palaeolithic occupation must be considered in relation to the former existence of an extensive coastal plain, and to the sea-level rise which submerged it. The late Palaeolithic assemblages of the region have been studied previously by Italian archaeologists from a rigid typological stance, with various schemes put forward suggesting evolution of the assemblages through different stages of an Epigravettian tradition. In this thesis, attribute analysis is used to re-examine the principal assemblages, using published data where adequate and supplemented by samples studied by the author in Italy. The results are analyzed to seek the social and economic factors which shaped the various industries, as well as diachronic change wherever it can be demonstrated. Factors such as difficulty in obtaining raw material were clearly crucial to assemblage composition. The existing typological schemes are shown to lack real bases and to mask rather than reveal sociocultural information. Chapter 1 states the aims of the thesis and critically discusses previous theoretical approaches to the late Palaeolithic of the region. Chapters 2 and 3 describe relevant aspects of the regional palaeoenvironment. The author's own methodological approach is explained in Chapter 4, and then used for a detailed study of the assemblages from Grotta delle Cipolliane in Chapter 5. This is followed in Chapter 6 by a broader study of the late Palaeolithic assemblages in Puglia, with discussions of their possible diachronic and synchronic relationships. Chapter 7 develops this latter theme into an attempt to understand the social and economic features of the late Palaeolithic settlement of Puglia, and suggestions are made concerning future work that might improve the quality of the archaeological evidence. Chapter 8 summarizes the main conclusions of the thesis.