Since 1990s, the Laboratory of Palaeoanthropology of the University of Rome La Sapienza (Department of Animal and Human Biology) acts as a member of the Mission with the aim of collecting and analysing human skeletal remains. This collaboration begins with a planning of the intervention and proceeds with fieldwork activity. The constant presence of specialised anthropologists in the field is directed to the recovery, documentation and conservation of human remains with a special focus on taphonomic aspects. Investigations entail a series of lab-based data collection and analysis, which involves the collaboration with other national and international institutions for specialised studies.

The long tradition of collaboration between (historic and prehistoric) archaeology and skeletal biology within the Italian-Libyan Mission in the Acacus and Messak originates more than 50 years ago with the discovery of a mummified child at Uan Muhuggiag (Wadi Teshuinat, Acacus). Since the joint publication by Fabrizio Mori and Antonio Ascenzi (1959) many things have changed, however the ambitions and the aims of that collaboration are alive today. Late Pastoral and Garamantian tombs from the wadi Tanezzuft and Fewet area, along with Mesolithic and Neolithic burials at Takarkori rock shelter and its surrounding have been excavated in recent years, providing a fresh data on past human populations. 

The dried remains of an adult woman 

from Takarkori rock shelter (c. 6000 bp)

Learn more

di Lernia, S., and M. A. Tafuri. 2013. Persistent deathplaces and mobile landmarks. The Holocene mortuary and isotopic record from Wadi Takarkori (SW Libya). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology Volume 32 (1):1–15.

Manzi, G., Ricci, F., 2003. Populations of the Roman Era in the central Sahara: skeletal samples from the Fezzan (south-western Libya) in a diachronic perspective. In: Liverani, M. (Ed.), Arid Lands in Roman Times. Papers from the International Conference, Rome, July, 9th–10th, 2001. AZA 4, Monographs, All’Insegna del Giglio: Firenze, pp. 15–22.

Ricci F., Fornai C., Tiesler Blos V., Rickards O., di Lernia S., And Manzi G. 2008. Evidence of Artificial Cranial Deformation From the Later Prehistory of the Acacus Mts. (Southwestern Libya, Central Sahara). International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 18 (4): 372-391.

Tafuri, M.A., Bentley, A.R., Manzi, G., di Lernia, S., 2006. Mobility and kinship in the prehistoric Sahara: strontium isotope analysis of Holocene human skeletons from the Acacus Mts. (southwestern Libya). Journal ofAnthropological Archaeology 25 (3): 390–402.