Thursday, November 30, 2006

The IPHES gives impulse to a project of research about the first inhabitants of Sicilia

Two investigators of the IPHES (Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution, directed by Eudald Carbonell), Andreu Ollé and Josep Maria Vergés, have returned recently from Sicilia where they have been carrying out some prospecting in the province of Palermo, precisely in the Nature Reserve of the Madonie, in the north center of the mentioned country, with the aim of studying the prehistoric settlement of this area. "Sicilia is one of the three possible routes of entry of the first inhabitants, which proceeding from Africa, arrived to Europe. The other two ways that contemplate the scientists are, the most defended, across Asia, and the other access would be Gibraltar", points out Andreu Ollé.

This investigator has assured: "it is documented in Sicilia the presence of inhabitants about 100.000 years ago, but at the same time there are precise findings in other places of the country that would indicate occupations previous to this date". Vergés adds: "data are lacking, because it is not solved how was the arrival of the first hominids in Europe, and since Sicilia is one of the routes to debate, we want to deepen this island in the knowledge of the first inhabitants". In this sense he states: "we talk about Sicilia as a potential entry because it is known that there have been moments in which the sea level has gone down quite a lot, and taking into account that the Sicilian coasts are very near to those of Tunis there is a hypothesis to consider".

This is one of the questions which the IPHES tries to clarify. At the moment, the first prospecting in the Park of the Madonie has put remains of the Superior Paleolithic and some fluvial deposits of the Pleistocene means to the overdraft. Exactly lithic materials, tools of stone, and also some pieces of fauna, as a bone attributed to a species of dwarf elephant have been obtained. Now people will have to deepen in the analyses of these fossils and next year they will go again to carry out another prospecting, and, probably to visit even some other area far from the influence area of this park.

The Park of the Madonie is the object of study of a student, Vincenza Forgia -that we see in the photo among Vergés, behind his, while she talks with Andreu Ollé-. This girl did a stay in the IPHES, in Tarragona, since her doctoral thesis is codirect by Óscar Belvedere, professor of the University of Palermo, which is put in charge of the most methodological aspect of the research, and by Andreu Ollé and Josep Maria Vergés that they advise her in the contents more properly of those remote times, since in this Italian university there are not specialists in prehistory. The participation of the IPHES is also applied within the framework of a project wider of research of this institute that has for goal analyzing the possible contacts between the inhabitants of the north of Africa and the south of Europe those remote times.