Arma Veirana Cave

Arma Veirana Cave

One of the enduring mysteries of paleoanthropology is why early modern humans were able to colonize the world while their archaic contemporaries, the Neandertals, disappeared.  Did modern humans and archaic hominins occupy the same territories at the same times and if so, how were their niches partitioned? To what extent did they hybridize? Were archaic hominins outcompeted by modern humans and thus driven to extinction, or were environmental conditions the primary cause of their demise? Recent insights from ancient DNA and new archaeological discoveries indicate that the processes underlying “modern human origins” were complex and may have varied considerably from region to region.

Prof. Jamie Hodgkins, CU Denver. Project PI

The CHEI research team have been collaborating on the Arma Veirana, Paleolithic Excavation since 2015, assisting with the contextual 3D documentation of the site and burial excavation. A contextual site model was reconstructed around the cave with Paleolithic importance to inform of geological erosion and modern human and neanderthal mobility. Furthermore, a temporal 3D reconstruction was used during the excavation of an infant burial, enabling an in-situ virtual model of the burial artifacts to be reconstructed. This digital spatiotemporal model served as a reference for international analysis of the origins of this burial.

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Zuccarello, Italy






  • Photogrammetry
  • Archaeology
  • UAV

Project Timeline:
2015 – Present

Associated Publications:
Hirniak, Jayde N., et al. “Discovery of cryptotephra at Middle–Upper Paleolithic sites Arma Veirana and Riparo Bombrini, Italy: a new link for broader geographic correlations.” Journal of Quaternary Science 35.1-2 (2020): 199-212.

Meyer, Dominique E., et al. “The rapid generation and visualization of 3D timelapse reconstructions of the excavation at the Paleolithic site Arma Veirana in Italy” SAA 2017.

Riel-Salvatore, J., et al. “Programme integre de recherches sur le Paleolithique en Ligurie” SAA 2017.

Mercure, Danielle S., et al. “Evaluating photogrammetric reconstructions of faunal and lithic artifacts compared to traditional microscopic observation, structured light imaging, laser scanning, magnetic resonance imaging and computerized tomography scanning” CAA 2017.

Riel Salvatore, J., et al. “Characterizing Ephemeral Paleolithic Occupations at Arma Veirana (Liguria, Italy).” 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Society for American Archaeology, 2017.

Meyer, Dominique E., et al. “Optimization in the Co-Registration of Large Point Clouds for Archaeological Visualization.” CAA 2016. 2015.


Related News:

Project Collaborators:
Prof. Jamie Hodgkins 1*- Project PI,
Prof. Caley M. Orr 1,2,
Dr. Claudine Gravel-Miguel 3, 4,
Prof. Julien Riel-Salvatore 4,
Prof. Christopher E. Miller 5,6,
Luca Bondioli 7,8,
Alessia Nava 9,10,
Federico Lugli 11,12,
Sahra Talamo 13,14,
Mateja Hajdinjak 15,16,
Emanuela Cristiani 9,
Matteo Romandini 11,
Geneviève Pothier Bouchard 4,
Michael Buckley 18,
Lucia Mancini 19,20,
Fabio Baruffaldi 21
Sara Silvestrini 11,
Simona Arrighi 11,
Hannah M Keller 22,
Rocío Belén Griggs 2,
Marco Peresani 23,
David S Strait 24,
Stefano Benazzi 11,14,
Fabio Negrino 25

1* Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Denver, 1200 Larimer Street Denver, CO 80217-3364, USA;

2 Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, 80045, USA;

3 School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, PO Box 2402, Tempe AZ, 85287-2402, USA;

4 Département d’anthropologie, Université de Montréal, CP 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada, H3C 3J7;

5 A Institute for Archaeological Sciences and Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment, University of Tübingen, Rümelinstr. 23, 72070 Tübingen, Germany;

6 B SFF Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE), University of Bergen, Øysteinsgate 3, Post box 7805, 5020 Bergen, Norway;

7 Service of Bioarchaeology, Museum of Civilizations, Rome, Italy;

8 Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Padua, 35139 Padua, Italy;

9 DANTE Laboratory for the study of Diet and Ancient Technology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy;

10 Skeletal Biology Research Centre, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NZ, UK;

11 Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna, Via degli Ariani 1, 48121 Ravenna, Italy;

12 Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy;

13 Department of Chimistry G. Ciamician, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna Via Selmi 2, Bologna, 40126, Italy;[OC1]

14 Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig 04103, Germany;

15 Ancient Genomics Laboratory, Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road, NW1AT, London, UK;

16 Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, D-04103, Germany;

17 Cultural Heritage Engineering Initiative (CHEI), University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093 USA;

18 Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, the University of Manchester, Oxford Rd. Manchester M13 9PL UK;

19 Elettra – Sincrotrone Trieste S.C.p.A., Basovizza (Trieste), Italy;

20 LINXS – Lund Institute for Advanced Neutron and X-ray Science, Scheelevägen 19, 223 70 Lund, Sweden;

21 IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Medical Technology Laboratory, Via di Barbiano 1/10, 40136 Bologna Italy;

22 Department of Anthropology, Yale University,10 Sachem Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA;

23 Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, University of Ferrara, Sezione di Scienze preistoriche e antropologiche, Corso Ercole I d’Este 3244121 – Ferrara, Italy;

24 Department of Anthropology, Washington University, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA;

25 Department of Antiquities, Philosophy, History, University of Genoa, Via Balbi 2, 16136, Genoa, Italy.

[OC1]Italians, please advise as to whether you would want your institution to be listed in Italian or English and please provide us with the proper translation as you prefer.

Partnering Universities:
Università di Bologna
University of Colorado
Università di Ferrara
Università di Genova
Université de Montréal
Washington University in St. Louis
University of California San Diego
Universitat Tubingen