Italian archaeologists have discovered the fossilized remains of nine Neanderthals in a cave near Rome, shedding new light on how the Italian peninsula was inhabited and what its environment was like.
The Italian Ministry of Culture announced the opening on Saturday 8 May and confirmed that the Guattari Cave in San Felice Circeo was “one of the most significant sites in the world for Neanderthal history.” The first Neanderthal skull was discovered in a cave in 1939.
Fossil bones include skulls, skull fragments, two teeth, and other bone fragments. The oldest remains date from 100,000 to 90,000 years ago, while the other eight Neanderthals are believed to date from 50,000 to 68,000 years ago, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.
Excavations, begun in 2019, included a portion of the cave that has not yet been explored, including a lake first noted by anthropologist Alberto Carlo Blanc, who is credited with discovering the 1939 Neanderthal skull.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini called the find “an extraordinary discovery that the whole world will talk about.” Anthropologist Mauro Rubini said the large number of remains indicate a significant population of Neanderthals – “the first human society we can talk about.”
Archaeologists claim that the cave has perfectly preserved the environment that was 50,000 years ago. They noted that the fossilized remains of animals found in the cave, which included elephants, rhinos and giant deer, shed light on the flora and fauna of the area and its climatic history.