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In the Basilicata region, located in southern Italy and known for hosting among the first occurrences of the Acheulean culture in southwestern Europe, the Lower Paleolithic site of Loreto at Venosa is located less than a kilometer from the emblematic site of Notarchirico and less than 25 km from Cimitero di Atella. The Loreto site has not been studied as thoroughly as the two other sites and, although geological investigations have been carried out in the Venosa basin, no direct numerical dating has ever been published for the three archaeological levels brought to light during the excavation campaigns. We present a multi-method geochronological approach combining ESR/U-series, ESR, and 40Ar/39Ar permitting to refine the age of the most ancient archaeological level (A) of the Loreto site. These data allow us to propose an MIS 13 age for this level, in accordance with previous hypotheses based on geological and paleontological data. We also propose a technical review of the lithic tools preserved in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Venosa to integrate Loreto in the evolution scheme of the European Acheulean techno-complex emergence and diffusion.
The nature and timing of environmental changes throughout the last glacial-interglacial transition in the South Caucasus, and more widely in eastern Europe, are still not fully understood. According to certain pollen records, forest expansion occurred in many areas several millennia after what is considered worldwide as the onset of the Holocene. The current problem we face is that the time lag in forest expansion varies from one sequence to another, sometimes with no delay at all. Moreover, the potential forcing/controlling factors behind this complex pattern, contrary to the almost synchronous global Holocene warming, are still a matter for debate. Accordingly, we revisit the issue of forest expansion through vegetation history obtained in the South Caucasus using a new pollen record, retrieved from the Nariani paleolake (South Georgia). These data attest to a steppic phase, initially dominated by Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae (12,700–10,500 cal yr BP), then by Poaceae (10,500–9000 cal yr BP), culminating with a more forested phase (9000–5000 calyrBP). Although some palaeoclimatic regional reconstructions show a wet early Holocene, we interpret the delay in forest expansion recorded in Nariani (2500 years) as the result of reduced spring precipitation, which would have limited forest development at that time.
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