10th International Conference on Geomorphology
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Ongoing Investigations of the Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations at the Balzi Rossi archaeological area, Ventimiglia, Italy

Deirdre Ryan1 and the SPHeritage Project*
Deirdre Ryan and the SPHeritage Project
  • 1Università di Pisa
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

The caves complex of Balzi Rossi (Ventimiglia, adjacent to the Italian-French border) is recognized as an important site for the study of Paleolithic settlements within the Mediterranean and Europe. As such, it has been subject to archaeological investigation for over a century but with little regard for the associated coastal and marine deposits. Possibly four Pleistocene interglacial periods have been documented there, with three coastlines located at distinct altimetric altitudes. One objective of the SPHeritage project is to precisely identify, describe, and geochronologically constrain these palaeo-coastlines. Constraining the sea-level record within the region will assist in understanding how Paleolithic human populations responded to environmental variations related to Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations and help establish the contribution of vertical Earth movements to paleo and predicted sea-level change. This outcome will be achieved through high-resolution topographic surveys, the reassessment of natural and archaeological stratigraphic sequences (including, through remnants preserved at museums, those completely removed by former archaeological excavations), and a multi-pronged approach to date the marine deposits. We will present the preliminary results and continuing work from our interdisciplinary team that includes geomorphologists, geologists, stratigraphers, paleontologists, and archaeologists. We hope this presentation will serve as an example of multidisciplinary approach to geoarchaeology and stimulate discussion within the community on the influence of relative sea-level changes to the peopling of coastal areas.

SPHeritage Project:

Deirdre D. Ryan1, Irene M. Bollati2, Nicola Corradi3, Silvia Gazzo3, Danilo Morelli3, Abdelkader Moussous4, Giovanni Muttoni2, Fabio Negrino3, Olivier Notter4, Manuela Pelfini2, Alessandro Perego2, Serena Perini2, Luca Ragaini1, Eleonora Regattieri5, Elena Rossoni-Notter4, Alessio Rovere6, Marco Serradimigni1, Elisabetta Starnini1, Matteo Vacchi1, Andrea Zerboni2, Marta Pappalardo1

How to cite: Ryan, D. and the SPHeritage Project: Ongoing Investigations of the Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations at the Balzi Rossi archaeological area, Ventimiglia, Italy, 10th International Conference on Geomorphology, Coimbra, Portugal, 12–16 Sep 2022, ICG2022-523, https://doi.org/10.5194/icg2022-523, 2022.