Taphonomy of the fossil hominid bones from the Acheulean site of Castel di Guido near Rome, Italy

Renato Mariani-Costantini, Laura Ottini, Salvatore Caramiello, Raffaele Palmirotta, Francesco Mallegni, Alfredo Rossi, Luigi Frati, Luigi Capasso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Castel di Guido near Rome is one of the few open air Middle Pleistocene European sites that has yielded hominid skeletal remains associated with fossil fauna and Acheulean implements. The fossil hominid bones include two femoral shafts, respectively designated Castel di Guido-1 (CdG-1) and CdG-2, an occipital fragment (CdG-3), a right maxilla lacking teeth (CdG-4), a portion of right parietal (CdG-5), a right temporal (CdG-6), and a fragment of left parietal vault (CdG-7). CdG-1 through CdG-4 were collected in 1979-1982 on the surface, together with fossil fauna, where ploughing incised fossiliferous tuffaceous sands. Excavations conducted in the same area from 1980 to 1990 led to the discovery of CdG-5, CdG-6 and CdG-7 within the tuffaceous sands, which were shown to overlay a bone-bearing paleosurface, with abundant evidence of hominid activities. The Castel di Guido hominid assemblage poses intriguing taphonomic questions. The analysis of the physical evidence offered by the bone surfaces, reported in the present study, indicates that the hominid skeletal remains were heavily fragmented before fossilization and exposed to carnivores and rodents, as well as to trampling and/or friction in abrasive sediment. Although definitive conclusions cannot be reached on the basis of the available evidence, it is possible that clusters of incisions localized on specific regions of the Castel di Guido fossil hominid bones might reflect deliberate human manipulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Cannibalism
  • Castel di Guido
  • Fossil
  • Hominid
  • Italy
  • Middle pleistocene
  • Surface marks
  • Taphonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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