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Abstract

Recent underwater archaeological surveys recovered hundreds of flint artefacts between depths of 18 and 21 m at Cala Tramontana, a small bay located in the eastern part of Pantelleria Island. Most of the flint artefacts indicate debitage, and are characterized by cores and flakes without any specific morphology. Different lithic tools were also identified, such as fragments of blades, truncations, end-scrapers, points and crested blades. An initial hypothesis is that this lithic industry represents the oldest traces of human visitation to the island, possibly related to the exploitation of the nearby obsidian source, and favoured because of the sheltered coastal configuration of Cala Tramontana and Cala Levante with respect to the dominant winds and related storms. However, the present-day coastal setting in the bay is rather inhospitable, with high cliffs and difficult marine access. In contrast, palaeo-landscape reconstructions by means of high-resolution multibeam bathymetry reveal the possible presence of a small palaeo-beach in the inner part of the bay when the sea level was 15 m lower than at present. By comparing this palaeo-sea level with the eustatic curve (and by excluding possible vertical movements), we roughly estimate an age of the lithic industry of 9.6–7.7 cal ka BP.

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