ICE AGE SETTLERS OF SICILY USED A LAND BRIDGE
Early settlers migrated to Sicily during the last Ice Age.
The analysis of human skeletal remains found in the Grotta d'Oriente Cave on the
island of Favignana (Italy), show that modern humans first settled in Sicily
from mainland Italy during the last Ice Age, and that, although they were island
dwellers, consumed little seafood, subsisting mostly on terrestrial food
The study, led by Marcello Mannino of the Max Planck Institute for
Evolutionary Anthropology, revealed results from a combination of tests and
analyses using mitochondrial DNA data, AMS radiocarbon dating, and isotopic
analysis on skeletal finds and associated remains of human skeletons,
particularly that of skeletal specimen 'Oriente B', unearthed in the cave during
archaeological campaigns in 1972 and 2005.
The analysis revealed the time when humans reached the islands of Favignana
and Levanzo near western Sicily. These islands were connected to mainland Sicily
until the first few millennia of the Holocene Epoch, a geological epoch which
began around 12,000 radiocarbon years ago, when sea levels were low as a result
of the Glacial Maxima of the last Ice Age.
Said Mannino, "The definitive peopling of Sicily by modern humans only
occurred at the peak of the last Ice Age, around 19,000 -26,500 years ago, when
sea levels were low enough to expose a land bridge between the island and the
Italian peninsula". Dating and morphological examination of the skeletal remains
confirmed that the early settlers were modern humans.
The study results also showed that these settlers were not fishermen,
despite their island environment. They subsisted on terrestrial animals rather
than marine sources for meat. Moreover, according to their analysis, this
hunter-gatherer lifestyle likely persisted even as sea levels rose during the
time of their occupation of the island environment.
Edited from Popular Archaeology (27 November 2012), ScienceDaily (28 November