Marine mollusc exploitation in Mediterranean prehistory: An overview

A. C. Colonese, M. A. Mannino, D. E. Bar-Yosef Mayer, D. A. Fa, J. C. Finlayson, D. Lubell, M. C. Stiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Marine molluscs have been recovered from sites around the Mediterranean Sea dating as far back as the Lower Palaeolithic, when hominins might have started consuming them (ca. 300 ka). During the Middle Palaeolithic and the early Upper Palaeolithic, humans (Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens) ate molluscs at many sites across the Mediterranean at least as early as the Last Interglacial, although the scale of this exploitation is still unclear, due to biases produced in the coastal archaeological record by Late Glacial and post-Glacial sea level rise. The exploitation of marine molluscs apparently increased in the Late Glacial and Early Holocene, when humans collected them in relatively large quantities and from all available ecosystems. The consumption of shellfish, and of other small animals (aquatic and continental), probably contributed to the success of the flexible and opportunistic subsistence strategies adopted by Mediterranean hunter-gatherers for much of prehistory. This is particularly evident in later foraging economic systems (i.e. late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic), in which coastal resources probably acted as buffers against the negative outcomes of environmental and anthropogenic impacts on available resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-103
Number of pages18
JournalQuaternary International
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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