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Routes > Arte e Storia > Storia > Paleolitico
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Prof. Carlo Peretto*;
Head of the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Science, University of Ferrara

In collaboration with: Antonella Minelli, Marta Arzarello, Giuseppe Lembo, Ursula Thun Hohenstein

About the first Europeans
A little more than 20 years ago, the Nature magazine (1982) dedicated its cover and space to an article about the layer of Isernia La Pineta. The novelty was not only the large quantity of finds, but also and above all its high antiquity, even if it wasn’t surely the most ancient settlement in Europe in that period; for instance, since then, Vallonnet (France) dated back about 900.000 years ago.
The novelty of Isernia was the fact that it contributed determinately to hold an high age of the first European population. So, the debate about the possibility that human groups had come to our territory before they thought with complex and modern ways of life, lit up again.
They tried many times not to accept this new reality. They constituted an unfounded basis for the so called short chronology based on the axiom that only since about 500.000 years ago, mankind had reached Europe. To maintain this hypothesis they denied also the clearest data. They doubted about everything: the formation process of the most ancient layers, the primary deposition of the materials, the quality of relative and radiometric dating, paleontologic studies, etc.
The progress of the scientific research, above all the one in the field and not the speculative one, lead successively and rapidly to further and exciting comparisons putting us again, nowadays, in the condition to rewrite some parts of the most ancient history of the European continent.
In fact, new excavations and discoveries have confirmed the antiquity of the first European human peopling, like the principal whole of Atapuerca in Spain that returned some Homo antecessor remains, and the site of Ceprano in Italy, from which comes a skull-cap attributed to Homo cepranensis. In many cases, it is about one thousand years ago or even more, like for instance the Ca’ Belvedere site of Monte Poggiolo (Forlì).
Now we are in the condition to revolutionize again time and ways of diffusion of the first men that left Africa to reach Eurasia in a more ancient epoch. The peopling history of our continent could extend further on, especially after the important discovery of skeleton remains, in Dmanissi (Georgia), attributed to Homo georgicus dating back about 1.750.000 years ago.

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