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Paleolithic Footprints Studied in Italian Cave

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Italy cave footprintsJOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—A team of researchers led by Marco Romano of the University of the Witwatersrand used laser scans, sediment analysis, geochemistry, archaeobotany, and 3-D modeling to analyze 180 footprints discovered in northern Italy’s Grotta della Bàsura in the 1950s, according to a Live Science report. The evidence suggests that some 14,000 years ago, a group of two adults, one preteen, and two children—aged six and three—entered the cave barefoot while carrying bundles of burning pine sticks to light their way. As they traveled through the cave, they crouched and crawled when the ceiling was too low to walk upright. At times, they moved in single file, with the youngest bringing up the rear. “[They] walked very close to the side wall of the cave,” Romano said, “a safer approach also used by other animals (e.g. dogs and bears) when moving in a poorly lit and unknown environment.” The group eventually reached the cave’s final room, where Roman said the children smeared clay from the cave floor on a stalagmite, at different levels according to their height. Charcoal on the walls is thought to have been left by their torches, he added. To read more about cave archaeology in Italy, go to “Ice Age Necropolis.”

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