The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Skull reconstruction of Barma del Caviglione 1, Grimaldi Caves, an Upper Paleolithic Homo sapiens


1Antenne de Préhistoire de l'Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, CEREGE, Europôle de l'Arbois, Aix-en-Provence, France, 2Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Fondation Albert Ier de Monaco, Paris, France

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In 1872, in the Cavillon’s Cave, a burial of an almost complete Homo sapiens skeleton was discovered: Barma del Caviglione 1. The burial was taken along in block to the National Museum of Natural History in Paris where it was exposed to the public as one of the main specimen of the Prehistoric collection. Recently, our team managed a multidisciplinary research on this famous fossil which was deformed and/or fractured, covered of ochre, shell’s ornaments and partially full of matrix. Dating is about 24 500 years BP (C14).

We present here the first reconstruction of the cranium and the mandible. Data was gathered with a medical scanner (General Electric Light Speed, 0.299mm thickness, 120kV, 120mAs, 26.3cm FOV) and were exported as DICOM files (373*351) and postprocessed using Mimics 13.1 (Materialise©) and RapidForm 2006 (Inus Technology®).

The first stage consisted in cleaning bones of the ochre deposit, the ornaments and the matrix, slice by slice. Each fragment was then isolated before being connected with the others. The internal structures were modelised (endocranium, inner ear). The reconstructed skull was studied using metric as well as Procrustes methods and compared with Upper Paleolithic and more recent Homo sapiens.

Results bring new information on the Grimaldi Caves fossils and the variability of the Homo sapiens from the Upper Paleolithic. It allows us to postulate the existence of a geo-chronological group characterized by anatomical and cultural peculiarities and symbolic behaviors.

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