Science & Engineering Faculty

Revisiting the archaeological site of Grotta dei Baffoni Cave (Frasassi Gorge, Italy): Integrated stratigraphy, archaeometry, and geochronology of upper Pleistocene–Holocene cave sediments

Publication Date Jun 21, 2022


ABSTRACT In this paper, we present old and new data about our integrated interdisciplinary stratigraphic study of sedimentary deposits preserved in the Grotta dei Baffoni Cave of the Frasassi hypogenic cave complex, including sedimentological, paleontological, archaeometric, and radiometric analyses. This research work allowed us to reconstruct the geologic, environmental, and human history of this part of the northeastern Apennines of Italy for the past 200,000 years, from the late Middle Pleistocene to the Present. Accumulation of alluvial sediment began in this cave ~200,000 years ago, when an entrance was breached by the Sentino River during its process of incision and deepening of the Frasassi Gorge coupled with regional tectonic uplift. Flooding of the cave went on until the entrance sill of the cave was lifted up to an elevation that could no longer be reached by the river, sometime in the mid–Late Pleistocene. After this, windblown dust (i.e., loess) and coarser carbonate clasts derived from the disintegration of the vaults due to cryogenic processes and/or seismically induced collapses of the limestone vaults, accumulated on this now-dry underground environment. The stratigraphy of an ~4-m-thick sedimentary deposit accumulated in the vast atrium room of the cave was measured, sampled, and documented in two excavation trenches in 1952 by archaeologist Anton Mario Radmilli. By collecting a dozen stratigraphically located osteological finds for 14C dating, and revisiting artifacts collected by Radmilli, ...


Mid Late Pleistocene Early Middle Bronze Age Younger Dryas Cold Period Regional Tectonic Uplift Ritual Place Human Bones Excavation Trenches Windblown Dust Radiometric Analyses Subsurface Sediments

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No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretatio...

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