Snapshots from Grotta d’Oriente

Posted on 28 June 2018

Increased marine productivity and sea level change supported a larger investment in marine resource by Mesolithic foragers in the central Mediterranean

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A multi- and interdisciplinary study led by Dr Andre Colonese of the Department of Archaeology revealed that late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic people in north-west Sicily had capitalised on changes in sea level and marine productivity to intensify the exploitation of marine resources.

In a period of population growth and competition for resources, this unique window of opportunity allowed the last Mesolithic foragers to mitigate resource shortfall on land. Notably this is also the time of the introduction of early agro-pastoral economy in Sicily, and the consumption of marine resources by early Neolithic people suggest that they may have also enjoyed these favorable environmental conditions during their colonisation efforts in north-west Sicily.

An abrupt increase in marine productivity also involved the eastern Mediterranean Sea between about 10.5 and 6 ka cal BP, which is today one of the poorest trophic areas in the world. This may have similarly supported a larger economic focus on marine resources in this region, including the development of early fishing villages—adding to the complex, multidimensional nature of coastal exploitation in the Mediterranean.