The faunal assemblage from La Sassa cave (Latium, Italy): Environmental perspective of a Late Pleistocene cave hyena – Brown bear den

Maurizio Gatta*, Angelica Fiorillo, Leonardo Salari, Katia Francesca Achino, Mario Federico Rolfo, Luca Alessandri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


La Sassa cave (Sonnino, central Italy) is a recently investigated MIS 3 site of southern Latium, a region characterised by a large number of caves and open-air Late Pleistocene sites. This paper describes the large faunal assemblage discovered at La Sassa cave, providing taphonomic and stratigraphic analyses which allow us to interpret the outer rooms of the cave as a cave hyena communal den and the inner area as a possibly coeval brown bear hibernating shelter. Archaeological evidence also indicates a human frequentation of the surrounding area occurred. In addition, a first environmental reconstruction of the area is provided based on faunal data. Results suggest a composite hilly landscape, with forests and grasslands interspersed by scrubland areas, rocky bands and wetlands, between the Pontine Plain and the modest peaks of the Ausoni Mountains. This contribution improves our palaeoecological perspective of the area around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum with intense human occupation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103691
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2022


  • Crocuta crocuta
  • Large mammals
  • Last Glacial
  • Mediterranean
  • MIS 3
  • Ursus arctos

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