First dated human occupation of Italy at ~0.85 Ma during the late Early Pleistocene climate transition
A candidate for the oldest human occupation site in Italy is Monte Poggiolo where the lithic tool-bearing levels are currently dated to ~ 1 Ma based on electron spin resonance (ESR). The low analytical precision of ± 30% at 2σ makes it unclear whether the date actually conflicts with a recent reassessment of age constraints on key hominin sites from Italy, France, and Spain pointing to a uniformly young timing for the earliest habitation of southern Europe during the late Early Pleistocene climate transition within reverse magnetic polarity subchron C1r.1r (0.988–0.781 Ma). Our new magnetostratigraphic and biostratigraphic results show a sequence of stable normal and reverse polarities in a regional lithostratigraphic context that indicate the Monte Poggiolo tool-bearing site post-dates the Jaramillo normal polarity subchron, most probably occurring at ~ 0.85 Ma immediately after the pronounced cooling that culminated with marine isotope stage 22 when the associated regression may have opened new migration routes through the Po Valley for large mammals and hominins.
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