Gianpiero Di Maida, Alumni


Gianpiero Di Maida (Italy, 1980)

M.A. in Archaeology and History of Art of the Ancient World and the Levant; in Classical Studies

PhD project
Landscape evolution and life in the caves of Sicily from late Pleistocene to early Holocene. A database of the Sicilian record and interpretative models.
The role of caves in the history of archaeology has been crucial from the beginning of the discipline itself as a science, in the XIX sec.: «caves soon came to be regarded as significant archaeological resources, valued in particular for the common stratification of their deposits which facilitated the relative chronological ordering of faunal remains and cultural material [...]» (A. Bergsvik, R. Skeates (edd.), Caves in Context: The Cultural Significance of Caves and Rockshelters in Europe, Oxford 2012, 28).
Rock art, as well, has always been regarded with great interest by the scholars for its immediate and auto-intuitive connection with the non-material, spiritual world of the human communities of the past (often otherwise completely lost). Rock art has even been the way the modern western society discovered the existence of the antiquity of manhood (J.D. Lewis-Williams, The mind in the cave, London 2004, 26ff.)

Caves (together with shelters) dominate the Sicilian archaeological record from the beginning: no open-air site is known in literature until Neolithic times.
In some of the caves with archaeological remains a significant (both qualitatively and quantitatively) record of rock art is preserved.
A first main aim of the PhD project is to make an inventory and record the prehistoric art within the caves and shelters of Sicily (both rock and mobile art).

But as stated above, rock art research and cave archaeology can also play a crucial role in the interpretation of social and cultural significance.
Referring to various theoretical approaches that revolutionized the rock art studies in the last 30 years and that have not been applied to the Sicilian record yet, a second main aim is to attempt an integrated analysis of the prehistoric art of the island in its diachronic perspective, with a focus on the environmental and landscape reconstruction.
By Collecting the information available in the literature concerning the paleo-environment and the paleo-climate and organizing a small scale excavation campaign to retrieve high resolution paleo-ecological data, I am going to use art as a proxy for the analysis of the relation between the communities that produced it and the different aspects of the material and non-material lives of those very communities: from the environment they lived in to the Weltanschauung they had.
A macroregional perspective will also be taken: by searching for possible common trends (conservative or progressive) and common themes in the artistic production of the Mediterranean region in the given period - as proof of a cultural milieu and of the travelling of ideas (together with people) - I argue that the known role of Sicily as crossroad during the late proto-historic and the early historic times, could find its roots already in the post-LGM periods.
Research interests Upper Palaeolithic Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology, Neolithic Archaeology, Rock Art, 3D scanning methods and digitalization in Archaeology, Lithic Technology, Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology.

Since November 2014
Member of the Graduate School "Human Development in Landscapes" at Kiel University.

July 2011
Master degree at La Sapienza - Università di Roma (Italy) with a thesis on the Mousterian lithic records of three Italian regions and their relations with environment and climate (relator prof. M. Mussi).

2006 - 2011
Study of pre-, proto-historic, classical and oriental Archaeology at La Sapienza - Università di Roma (Italy).

December 2004
Master degree at the Università degli Studi di Palermo with a thesis on the Human Geography theories of the Internationale Situationniste, with particular attention to their ideas about the urban environment (relator prof. V. Guarrasi).

1998 - 2004
Study of humanities (Italian Language and Literature, Latin Language and Literature, Old Greek Language and Literature, Human Geography, History, General and Italian Linguistic) at the Università degli Studi di Palermo (Italy).

Work experience

July-December 2013
DAAD short term grants: 3D scanning and data processing (Neanderthal Museum, Museum voor Natuurwetenschappen Brüssels, Landesamt für Archäologie Dresden), material processing and raw material macro- and microscopic analysis (Niedersächsisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Hannover), Bibliographic researches (Neanderthal Museum, Nationalmuseet Copenhagen).

November 2012
Stage at the Neanderthal Museum. 3D scanning and data processing practice.

June 2012
Survey at the Grotta del Genovese, Levanzo (Italy). Digital photographical documentation, spatial analysis.

August-December 2011
Field work at the Middle Palaeolithic site of Schöningen and material processing (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen).

November 2010 & 2011
Excavation campaign at Seulberg (Greifswald Universität).

Editor and proof reader in a publishing house.

Selected publications

Gianpiero di Maida 2016a. «Le grotte con arte del Tradiglaciale nel Palermitano: nuove metodologie e prospettive di recerca.» Notiziario Archeologico della Soprintendenza di Palermo 6. Available at:

Gianpiero di Maida 2016b. «3D in the cave: hey young deer, why the long face (and no tail)?» Rock Art Research Volume 33 (2): 209-218.

Tusa S., di Maida G., Pastoors A., Piezonka H., Weniger G.-C., Terberger T., «The Grotta di Cala dei Genovesi – new studies on the Ice Age cave art on Sicily», Praehistorische Zeitschrift, 2013, 88 (1-2): 1-22.

Di Maida G., «Eine vergleichende Analyse des italienischen Moustérien», Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 20, 53-64, Tübingen 2011.

Di Maida G., «Cucuteni-Trypillya. Una grande civiltà dell’antica Europa», Sibrium xxv, 191-193, Varese 2010.


Since 2014
AURA – Australian Rock Art Research Association

Since 2014
IIPP – Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria

Since 2011
ESHE – European Society for Human Evolution