by Raimonda Rossi
TheSan Sebastiano rock caveis a cavity of tectonic origin developed on the southern slopes of Mount Massico which delimits the northern sector of the great tectonic depression of the Graben Campano. Thanks to excavations of the University of Rome "La Sapienza" that exposed the remains of the fauna and lithic artifacts in stone and flint it was possible to document an intense and continuous prehistoric attendance of the slopes of Mount Massico. With its wealth of archaeological evidence, it documents an intense population system that developed during different phases of prehistory which have been already found in the course of several excavation campaigns that refer to the initial phases (Arivito) and those following the upper Paleolithic (Incaldana - Roccia diSan Sebastiano), the Neo-eneolithic (Arivito, Starza, Bagni Solfurei, San Pietro) and the Bronze Age (Bagni Solfurei, Sant'Eufemia). The San Sebastiano Rock cave actually represents the only paleolithic evidence which was investigated stratigraphically in the territory between the northern coast of Campania and the southern coast of Lazio. It’s considered today one of the most important pieces of evidence in southern Italy and it’s a precious testimony of the final stages of the Neanderthal population and the first arrival of homo sapiens in southern Italy western Europe. The latest excavation campaigns have allowed researchers to investigate the multiple levels of Mousterian Age from which a deciduous molar of a Neanderthal child was brought to light.
In the Biagio Greco Civic Archeological Museum of Mondragone we can see numerous finds that serve as a testimony of a remarkable lithic industry consisting of nuclei, splinters, tips and scrapers mainly obtained from silex, quartzite and limestone. There’s also a fascinating Cyclop pierced shell which served for ornamental use. In the San Sebastiano Rock Cave other small objects were found with traces of artistic activities and exhibitions of parietal art, i.e. traces of artistic activities on"wall like a sandstone pebble with the engraved profile of a Bos Primigenius horn, which reminds of the bovine head profile engraved on a pebble found in the Walls Cave (Grotta delle Mura) Paleolithic deposit in Monopoli. Between the numerous findings we can also note some bone fragments with evident traces of cuts and incisions made with silex artifacts. Even more numerous and interesting is the evidence of parietal art which consists of different signs traced on the natural surfaces of the cave. In a circumscribed area within the cave there’s a stalagmite, located in an hardly visible spot which was marked by a series of parallel incisions. In the same spot on another stalagmite there’s a red spot which is probably caused by the repeated use of a red ochre dye. The San Sebastiano rock cave owes its importance to the highlighting of the first signs of "modernization" manifested during the Upper Paleolithic, since the last Neanderthals who took up the cave had begun to develop an artistic sensibility which was also testified by the ornaments found which were probably used for rituals related to magic and/or religions.
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