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Authors: Fedele, Francesco G.* 
Giaccio, Biagio* 
Isaia, Roberto* 
Orsi, Giovanni* 
Title: The campanian ignimbrite eruption, heinrich event 4, and palaeolithic change in Europe: A high-resolution investigation
Issue Date: 2003
ISBN: 9780875909981
Keywords: Campanian Ignimbrite eruption
Palaeclimatic records
Palaeolithic Change
Abstract: The Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) eruption from the Phlegraean Fields Caldera, southern Italy, represents one of the largest late Quaternary volcanic event. Its recent dating at 39,280±110 yr BP draws attention to the occurrence of this volcanic catastrophe during a time interval characterized by biocultural modifications in western Eurasia. These included the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition and the supposed change from Neandertal to “modern” Homo sapiens anatomy, a subject of continuing investigation and controversy. The paper aims to clarify the position and relevance of the CI event in this context. At several archaeological sites of southeastern Europe, the CI ash separates the cultural layers containing Middle Palaeolithic and/or “Earliest Upper Palaeolithic” assemblages from the layers in which Upper Palaeolithic industries occur. At the same sites the CI tephra coincides with a long interruption of occupation. The palaeclimatic records containing the CI products show that the eruption occurred just at the beginning of Heinrich Event 4 (HE4), which was characterized by extreme climatic conditions, compared to the other HEs. From the observation of this concurrence of factors, we advance the hypothesis of a positive climate-volcanism feedback triggered by the co-occurrence of the CI eruption and HE4 onset. Both the environmental and cultural data available for a c.5000-year interval on either side of the event, suggest that a reappraisal of the identity and destiny of the archaeological industries representing the so-called Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition is in order. This might force a reassessment of the Upper Palaeolithic notion as traditionally employed.
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