Eight of the remains are dated to between 50,000 and 68,000 years ago, while one, the oldest, is dated to between 90,000 and 100,000 years ago, the ministry said in a statement.
Italian archaeologists have uncovered the fossilised remains of nine Neanderthals in a cave near Rome, shedding new light on how the Italian peninsula was populated and under what environmental conditions.
The Italian Culture Ministry announced the discovery on Saturday, saying it confirmed that the Guattari Cave in San Felice Circeo was “one of the most significant places in the world for the history of Neanderthals.” A Neanderthal skull was discovered in the cave in 1939.
The fossilised bones include skulls, skull fragments, two teeth and other bone fragments. The oldest remains date from between 100,000 and 90,000 years ago, while the other eight Neanderthals are believed to date from 50,000-68,000 years ago, the Culture Ministry said in a statement.
The excavations, begun in 2019, involved a part of the cave that hadn’t yet been explored, including a lake first noted by the anthropologist Alberto Carlo Blanc, who is credited with the 1939 Neanderthal skull discovery.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini called the finding “an extraordinary discovery that will be the talk of the world.”
Circeo, Grotta Guattari, nuove incredibili scoperte: trovati reperti fossili di altri 9 uomini di #Neanderthal. Oltre a iene anche resti di elefante, rinoceronte, orso delle caverne e dell’uro, grande bovino estinto. https://t.co/N7uLONLYTr ▶️ Il video: https://t.co/iBZuVyhmBo pic.twitter.com/zVSmXDB4zH— Ministero della cultura (@MiC_Italia) May 8, 2021
Anthropologist Mauro Rubini said the large number of remains suggest a significant population of Neanderthals, “the first human society of which we can speak.”
Archaeologists said the cave had perfectly preserved the environment of 50,000 years ago. They noted that fossilised animal remains found in the cave - elephant, rhinoceros and giant deer, among others - shed light on the flora and fauna of the area and its climactic history.