PALEO. Diversity of ancient Paleolithic cultural expressions in Italy. Centre / South Interactions

  • Section: Antiquity
  • Directors: Élisa Nicoud, researcher at the CNRS (UMR 7264 CEPAM); Roxane Rocca, postdoc UMR 7041-ArScAn, team AnTET; Marta Arzarello, researcher,  University of Ferrara ; Daniele Aureli, postdoc University of Siena; Marco Peresani, associate professor, University of Ferrara


The centre-south of Italy has a surprising wealth of human occupation from the lower Paleolithic (1.4 to 0.12 Ma). The diversity of technological systems and models of cultural structuring of space seem to testify to the pioneering role of the region on a Mediterranean and European scale. This programme aims to understand the initial dynamics of human settlement in this macro-region, by obtaining quality primary data through multidisciplinary fieldwork studies and the analysis of many lithic collections, using new approaches.

The first research focus (directed by E. Nicoud and M. Peresani) covers central Italy and revolves around well-initiated research at Valle Giumentina (Abruzzo). Using already established geochronological and cultural foundations, other sites of Abruzzo, Latium and Marche will be re-evaluated. Multidisciplinary studies on the Cingoli deposit in the Marche will begin, a starting point for future research in this region.

The second research focus (directed by R. Rocca, M. Arzarello, D. Aureli) mainly focuses on the lower Paleolithic in the south of the peninsula, in particular the study of the site of Cimitero di Atella in Basilicata. The continuation of research that began several years ago on the sites of Ficoncella and Quarto delle Cinfonare, and the study of old collections (Riparo Paglicci, Campoverde), will enrich our knowledge of this region.

The density and variety of Italian sites are well known, but ancient discoveries deserve a systematic reassessment (dating, palaeoenvironments, lithic industries, site function) and new data needs to be brought to light. Robust syntheses should be developed, using the same approaches to construct new theoretical frameworks.

A well thought-out comparison between the central and southern areas of the peninsula will help us to reconstruct the movements of the first populations to and from Italy within a Euro-Mediterranean context. Is it an innovative region, a refuge zone or a hub?

Key words

Paleolithic, Mediterranean, Italy, Settlement, Valle Giumentina, Cimitero di Atella, Ficoncella, Quaternary

Key statistics

  • 4 paleolithic sites being excavated

  • 10 sites restudied

  • 15 European partners

  • More than 50 quaternary specialists


Principal partners

  • École française de Rome

  • CNRS, UMR 7264 CEPAM

  • UMR 7041-ArScAn, équipe AnTET

  • University of Ferrara,
 Department of Humanities, Prehistoric science and Anthropology

  • University of Siena, Department of Physical Sciences, Earth and Environment, U.R. Prehistory and Anthropology

Other partners

  • Superintendence of Archeology of Fine Arts and Landscape of Abruzzo

  • Superintendence of Archeology of Fine Arts and Landscape of Basilicata

  • Superintendence of Archeology of Fine Arts and Landscape of Lazio

  • National centre of scientific research, UMR 8591 LGP, UMR 5140, UMR 5060 IRAMAT CRP2A, UMR 7194 MNHN HNHP

  • National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research

  • University of Basilicata

  • University of Pisa

  • University of Florence

  • University of Rome, La Sapienza

  • University of Naples – the East

  • University of Bordeaux 3 Michel de Montaigne

  • National research council, IGAG

  • Central commission of nuclear energy, UMR 8212 LSCE

  • Majella National Park

  • Municipality of Abbateggio

  • Archeoclub of Pescara


In 2017

  • February 2017: Study of the collections of Quarto delle Cinfonare (Latium)

  • June-July 2017: Excavation of Valle Giumentina (Abruzzo)
  • August 2017: Excavation of the site of Cimitero di Atella (Basilicata)
  • September 2017: Study of the collections of Ficoncella (Latium)

In 2018

  • 8 June-14 July 2018: Excavation at Valle Giumentina (Research area 1)

  • 1-30 August 2018: Excavation at Cimitero di Atella (Research area 2)

In 2019

  • 26 June – 5 August 2019: Mission at Valle Giumentina
  • August 2019 : Mission at Atella

Outputs and expected results

  • scientific publications and publications for the general public

  • public conferences

  • lectures at conferences and seminars

  • monograph

  • documentary film #INMINIMISMAXIMA (project IDEX JEDI UCA) – see the advert online

Page translated from French, 2020/03/23

European and national Programmes (ERC, ANR)

Laboratoire International Associé (LIA)