Chemical characterization of cryptotephra is critical for temporally linking archaeological sites. Here, we describe cryptotephra investigations of two Middle–Upper Paleolithic sites from north-west Italy, Arma Veirana and Riparo Bombrini. Cryptotephra are present as small (<100 µm) rhyolitic glass shards at both sites, with geochemical signatures rare for volcanoes in the Mediterranean region. Two chemically distinct shard populations are present at Arma Veirana (P1 and P2). P1 is a high silica rhyolite (>75 wt.%) with low FeO (<1 wt.%) and a K2O/Na2O > 1 and P2 is also a high silica rhyolite (>75 wt.%) but with higher FeO (2.33–2.65 wt.%). Shards at Riparo Bombrini (P3) are of the same composition as P1 shards at Arma Veirana, providing a distinct link between deposits at both sites. Geochemical characteristics suggest three possible sources for P1 and P3: eruptions from Lipari Island (56–37.7 ka) in Italy, the Acigöl volcanic field (200–20 ka) in Turkey and the Miocene Kirka-Phrigian caldera (18 Ma) in Turkey. Eruptions from Lipari Island are the most likely source for P1,3 cryptotephra. This study highlights how cryptotephra can benefit archaeology, by providing a direct link between Arma Veirana and Riparo Bombrini as well as other deposits throughout the Mediterranean.
- Middle Paleolithic
- radiocarbon dating
- Upper Paleolithic
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)