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See detailGeoarchaeology of the Ancient Harbour of Utica in a Deltaic Context (2014 and 2015)
Pleuger, Elisa ULiege; Gadhoum, Ahmed; Abichou, Hakim et al

Conference (2016, January 28)

Ancient authors mention Utica as a maritime and port city and estimate its origin around the 11th c. BC. However, in the present state of research, no archaeological evidence is earlier than the 9th c. BC ... [more ▼]

Ancient authors mention Utica as a maritime and port city and estimate its origin around the 11th c. BC. However, in the present state of research, no archaeological evidence is earlier than the 9th c. BC, and the location of the Phoenician and Roman port infrastructures remains unknown. Today, the ancient city is located on a promontory in the heart of the Medjerda delta, 10 km inland. Based on this observation, our geoarchaeological research focuses on two main issues: - Was there a marine environment around the promontory of Utica, which could shelter harbour structures? - Why the city, formerly a seaport city, is today located 10 km from the coast? Can the wadi be solely responsible of such an important sediment accumulation in a few millennia? Have any natural or anthropogenic factors influenced this deltaic progradation over the centuries? First results permitted drawing an hypothesis of the coastline during Antiquity to the effect that the Utica promontory was surrounded by the sea in an earlier era. (1) Effectively, the «North compartment» of the delta was covered by the sea at a given time, which will be determined by the next radiocarbon dating. But the sea still brushed the north side of the promontory during the Roman period, as evidenced by the potsherds found in one of the cores. This deep marine bay could be a potential location for harbour infrastructure prior to clogging of the bay by the sediments carried by the wadi. (2) The «corridor» area, materialised by the promontories of Utica and Kalâat el-Andalous, was also invaded by the sea at one time. The many artifacts found in this core attest the occupation of this area, outside of the maximal extension of the ancient city according to A. Lézine. Dating of the marine units in the two cores will bring essential data: * to establish the chronological framework of the retreat of the coastline and of the clogging of the bay; * to understand the passage of the Medjerda into the «North compartment» by the corridor Utica-Kalâat. The geoarchaeological results corroborate ancient sources. Utica was able to welcome important harbour structures, since the presence of a deep marine environment is attested around the promontory, but these remains are probably 5 m deep under the alluvium of the Wadi Medjerda. [less ▲]

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See detailEvolution of the palaeoenvironment of the Medjerda delta (Tunisia) and geoarchaeology of the ancient city of Utica
Pleuger, Elisa ULiege; Abichou, Hakim; Gadhoum, Ahmed et al

Conference (2016, January 27)

Phoenician Utica remains today largely unknown, as is its role in the Phoenician expansion in the western Mediterranean. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mention Utica as a maritime and port city and ... [more ▼]

Phoenician Utica remains today largely unknown, as is its role in the Phoenician expansion in the western Mediterranean. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mention Utica as a maritime and port city and estimate its origin around the 11th c. BC. However, in the present state of research, no archaeological evidence is earlier than the 9th c. BC, and the location of the Phoenician and Roman port infrastructures remains unknown. Today, the ancient city is located on a promontory in the heart of the Medjerda delta, 10 km inland. This project proposes an interdisciplinary effort to understand the Medjerda delta landscape changes during the Holocene. It starts from an archaeological problem and proposes the contribution of geoarchaeology to the understanding of the relationship between ancient societies and their environment. The fluvial palaeoenvironments and sedimentary processes are studied through the mechanical extraction of cores (15-20 m deep) to reach the early Holocene. Selected sediment samples are then studied in laboratory, using different and complementary approaches. The location of port infrastructures will bring initial answers to the question of the foundation of the city. The study of river palaeoenvironments of the Medjerda delta during the Holocene aim at a better understanding of the nature of the settlement, as well as the function of the city of Utica over time. This study will also assess the impact of the ancient city on the environment and understand how the city adapted to the mobility of this Mediterranean delta. Furthermore, the analysis of sedimentary processes causing the filling of the harbour basin will lead to speculation about the causes of the abandonment of the structures and more generally the decline of the city in favor of Carthage. It will also examine whether natural or anthropogenic factors have influenced this deltaic progradation over the centuries. [less ▲]

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See detailReconstitution des paléoenvironnements et des activités humaines à partir de l’étude de sédiments prélevés dans le Cap Corse (Corse, France)
Fagel, Nathalie ULiege; Fontaine, François ULiege; Pleuger, Elisa ULiege et al

in Ghilardi, Mathieu (Ed.) La géoarchéologie des îles de Méditerranée (2016)

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See detailPalynology and ostracodology at the Roman port of ancient Ostia (Rome, Italy)
Sadori, Laura; Mazzini, Ilaria; Pepe, Caterina et al

in Holocene (2016), 26(9), 1502-1512

New detailed palynological and ostracodological analyses together with texture data from a sediment core drilled in Ostia Antica confirm the existence of the ancient Ostia harbour and its location by the ... [more ▼]

New detailed palynological and ostracodological analyses together with texture data from a sediment core drilled in Ostia Antica confirm the existence of the ancient Ostia harbour and its location by the Tiber River. Using the different proxies analysed in this work and chronologically framing the sediment record with three AMS radiocarbon dates, four phases have been singled out: pre-harbour, harbour bay under fluvial influence, more protected harbour basin and post-harbour phase. Ostracodology is used to reconstruct the marine versus freshwater influence in the basin. Palynology is used to reconstruct the plant landscape and the surrounding environment. Phases with low pollen concentration and expansions of NPPs suggest soil erosion and are alternated with quieter ones, where human impact was very clear. Deciduous oaks typical of coastal plain forests are the main taxon during the harbour phases. The occurrence of riparian trees increases in periods with low pollen concentration, high NPPs and very high pine percentages. These should be the periods in which important sediment inputs inside the harbour basin arrived and could be the expression of intense flooding phases. The comparison between the ostracod assemblages recovered in the two cores and has led to speculate a complex harbour structure. A separation could explain the micropalaeontological differences between the cores. Thus, we suggest that a pier must have been built in order to protect the inner harbour from the marine influence and to unload the goods transported by the big ships. [less ▲]

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See detailPALEO-DELTA: Palaeoenvironment and geoarchaeology of the Medjerda delta (Tunisia)
Pleuger, Elisa ULiege; Abichou, Hakim; Gadhoum, Ahmed et al

Poster (2015, October)

Phoenician Utica remains today largely unknown, as is its role in the Phoenician expansion in the western Mediterranean. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mention Utica as a maritime and port city and ... [more ▼]

Phoenician Utica remains today largely unknown, as is its role in the Phoenician expansion in the western Mediterranean. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mention Utica as a maritime and port city and estimate its origin around the 11th c. BC. However, in the present state of research, no archaeological evidence is earlier than the 9th c. BC, and the location of the Phoenician and Roman port infrastructures remains unknown. Today, the ancient city is located on a promontory in the heart of the Medjerda delta, 10 km inland. This project proposes an interdisciplinary effort to understand the Medjerda delta landscape changes during the Holocene. It starts from an archaeological problem and proposes the contribution of geoarchaeology to the understanding of the relationship between ancient societies and their environment. The fluvial palaeoenvironments and sedimentary processes are studied through the mechanical extraction of cores (15-20 m deep) to reach the early Holocene. Selected sediment samples are then studied in laboratory, using different and complementary approaches. The location of port infrastructures will bring initial answers to the question of the foundation of the city. The study of river palaeoenvironments of the Medjerda delta during the Holocene aim at a better understanding of the nature of the settlement, as well as the function of the city of Utica over time. This study will also assess the impact of the ancient city on the environment and understand how the city adapted to the mobility of this Mediterranean delta. Furthermore, the analysis of sedimentary processes causing the filling of the harbour basin will lead to speculation about the causes of the abandonment of the structures and more generally the decline of the city in favor of Carthage. It will also examine whether natural or anthropogenic factors have influenced this deltaic progradation over the centuries. [less ▲]

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See detailWhere is the ancient harbour of Utica ? Geoarchaeology and palaeoenvironment of the Medjerda delta (Tunisia)
Pleuger, Elisa ULiege; Abichou, Hakim; Gadhoum, Ahmed et al

Poster (2015, October)

Ancient authors mention Utica as a maritime and port city and estimate its origin around the 11th c. BC. However, in the present state of research, no archaeological evidence is earlier than the 9th c. BC ... [more ▼]

Ancient authors mention Utica as a maritime and port city and estimate its origin around the 11th c. BC. However, in the present state of research, no archaeological evidence is earlier than the 9th c. BC, and the location of the Phoenician and Roman port infrastructures remains unknown. Today, the ancient city is located on a promontory in the heart of the Medjerda delta, 10 km inland. This project proposes an interdisciplinary effort to understand the Medjerda delta landscape changes during the Holocene. It starts from an archaeological problem and proposes the contribution of geoarchaeology to the understanding of the relationship between ancient societies and their environment. The fluvial palaeoenvironments and sedimentary processes are studied through the mechanical extraction of cores (15-20 m deep) to reach the early Holocene. Selected sediment samples are then studied in laboratory, using different and complementary approaches. First results permitted to draw an hypothesis of the coastline during Antiquity and to bring out the evidence of an intense sedimentation event post 10th c. BC. The location of port infrastructures will bring initial answers to the question of the foundation of the city. The study of river palaeoenvironments of the Medjerda delta during the Holocene aim at a better understanding of the nature of the settlement, as well as the function of the city of Utica over time. This study will also assess the impact of the ancient city on the environment and understand how the city adapted to the mobility of this Mediterranean delta. Furthermore, the analysis of sedimentary processes causing the filling of the harbour basin will lead to speculation about the causes of the abandonment of the structures and more generally the decline of the city in favor of Carthage. It will also examine whether natural or anthropogenic factors have influenced this deltaic progradation over the centuries. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Geoarchaeology of Utica, Tunisia: The Paleogeography of the Mejerda Delta and Hypotheses Concerning the Location of the Ancient Harbor
Delile, Hugo; Abichou; Gadhoum, Ahmed et al

in Geoarchaeology (2015), 30(4), 291-306

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See detailGeoarchaeology of the ancient city of Utica (Tunisia) and evolution of the palaeoenvironment of the Medjerda delta
Pleuger, Elisa ULiege; Abichou, Hakim; Gadhoum, Ahmed et al

Poster (2015, May)

Phoenician Utica remains today largely unknown, as is its role in the Phoenician expansion in the western Mediterranean. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mention Utica as a maritime and port city and ... [more ▼]

Phoenician Utica remains today largely unknown, as is its role in the Phoenician expansion in the western Mediterranean. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mention Utica as a maritime and port city and estimate its origin around the 11th c. BC. However, in the present state of research, no archaeological evidence is earlier than the 9th c. BC, and the location of the Phoenician and Roman port infrastructures remains unknown. Today, the ancient city is located on a promontory in the heart of the Medjerda delta, 10 km inland. This project proposes an interdisciplinary effort to understand the Medjerda delta landscape changes during the Holocene. It starts from an archaeological problem and proposes the contribution of geoarchaeology to the understanding of the relationship between ancient societies and their environment. The fluvial palaeoenvironments and sedimentary processes are studied through the mechanical extraction of cores (15-20 m deep) to reach the early Holocene. Selected sediment samples are then studied in laboratory, using different and complementary approaches. The location of port infrastructures will bring initial answers to the question of the foundation of the city. The study of river palaeoenvironments of the Medjerda delta during the Holocene aim at a better understanding of the nature of the settlement, as well as the function of the city of Utica over time. This study will also assess the impact of the ancient city on the environment and understand how the city adapted to the mobility of this Mediterranean delta. Furthermore, the analysis of sedimentary processes causing the filling of the harbour basin will lead to speculation about the causes of the abandonment of the structures and more generally the decline of the city in favor of Carthage. It will also examine whether natural or anthropogenic factors have influenced this deltaic progradation over the centuries. [less ▲]

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See detailEvolution des paléoenvironnements du delta de la Medjerda
Pleuger, Elisa ULiege; Goiran, Jean-Philippe; Abichou, Hakim et al

Conference (2014, April)

Ce poster présente un projet de réflexion interdisciplinaire visant à comprendre le rythme d’évolution des paysages deltaïques au cours de l’Holocène. Depuis la fin du XXe siècle, la progradation ... [more ▼]

Ce poster présente un projet de réflexion interdisciplinaire visant à comprendre le rythme d’évolution des paysages deltaïques au cours de l’Holocène. Depuis la fin du XXe siècle, la progradation deltaïque de la Medjerda a fait l’objet de nombreuses investigations (e.g. Oueslati, 1995 ; Paskoff et al., 1992). Partant des sources écrites et de données archéologiques, ce phénomène de comblement a également été étudié plus récemment par le biais de la géoarchéologie et d’un système d’information géographique (SIG - Delile et al., 2013). Ces études ont conduit à l’élaboration d’un schéma spatio-temporel des multiples défluviations qu’a connues la Medjerda au cours de son avancée sur la mer. L’étude des paléo-environnements fluviaux et des processus sédimentaires sera réalisée par l’intermédiaire de carottages d’une dizaine de mètres de profondeur, afin d’atteindre les couches correspondant aux environs de la première moitié de l’Holocène. Les échantillons de sédiments sélectionnés seront ensuite étudiés en laboratoire selon différentes approches complémentaires : (1) analyse granulométrique et morphoscopie du quartz : reconstitution des conditions hydrodynamiques ; (2) analyse minéralogique par diffraction des rayons X : identification et estimation de l’abondance des composants sédimentaires détritiques, biologiques et authigènes ; (3) analyse géochimique par spectrométries XRF et ICP-AES : identification des sources sédimentaires et mise en évidence de la contamination anthropique ; (4) analyse palynologique : reconstitution du couvert végétal ; (5) étude des ostracodes : reconstitution des environnements sédimentaires (nature du milieu) ; (6) analyse géochimie isotopique du plomb : identification des sources de pollutions. L’analyse granulométrique renseignera l’hydrodynamisme et précisera les processus impliqués dans les phases successives de dépôts qui caractérisent différents environnements sédimentaires (e.g. Goiran et al. 2014). Elle sera complétée par une série d’analyses sédimentologiques (susceptibilité magnétique, minéralogie, géochimie organique et inorganique) et biologiques (pollens, ostracodes) afin de reconstituer l’évolution des paysages sur les derniers millénaires. Cette reconstitution sera mise en relation avec les changements climatiques au cours de l’Holocène. La combinaison des approches minéralogiques et géochimiques permettra d’identifier l’origine des minéraux argileux, de déterminer leurs régions sources et de mettre en évidence une contamination par les activités humaines. L’influence des facteurs anthropiques sera confirmée par une analyse des isotopes du plomb (e.g., Fagel et al., 2010). Différents traitements statistiques seront appliqués aux résultats de ces analyses dans le but d’affiner leur interprétation. Parallèlement, une série de datations radiocarbone seront réalisées afin de fixer le cadre chrono-stratigraphique des différentes phases d’évolution du delta. La plus-value de ce projet réside dans l’approche pluridisciplinaire, qui visera à proposer une image évolutive des paysages du bassin versant de la Medjerda, et précisera les modalités d’enregistrement sédimentaire en fonction de variables de contrôle que sont le climat et la pression anthropique. Plus globalement, ce projet met l’accent sur l’importance de la connaissance et des enseignements du passé pour comprendre et appréhender les conséquences de l’anthropisation de l’environnement, plus spécifiquement sur les milieux deltaïques. [less ▲]

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See detailETUDE DES SÉDIMENTS COTIERS DU CAP CORSE: RECONSTRUCTION PALÉOENVIRONNEMENTALE ET SUIVI DE LA CONTAMINATION EN ÉLÉMENTS TRACES MÉTALLIQUES AU COURS DE LA PÉRIODE HISTORIQUE
Fontaine, François ULiege; Goiran, Jean-Philippe; PRUDENCIO, Isabel et al

Conference (2014, April)

Les sédiments sont d’excellentes archives de la contamination de notre environnement. Depuis l’Antiquité, les activités humaines génèrent des aérosols anthropiques enrichis en métaux lourds (e.g. Pb, Zn ... [more ▼]

Les sédiments sont d’excellentes archives de la contamination de notre environnement. Depuis l’Antiquité, les activités humaines génèrent des aérosols anthropiques enrichis en métaux lourds (e.g. Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd, Hg) ou associés (As, Sb). Ces polluants métalliques se mélangent aux aérosols naturels (altération des roches) et leurs retombées sont incorporées dans les sols et les sédiments où ils sont préservés (Boyd, 2004). Sur des sédiments datés, une approche géochimique permet de quantifier l’apport anthropique en éléments métalliques par rapport aux sources naturelles et de reconstituer l’historique de la pollution. Les côtes méditerranéennes sont caractérisées par d’intenses échanges commerciaux, et ce depuis l’Antiquité. Nous proposons une reconstruction paléoenvironnementale ainsi qu’un suivi de la contamination anthropique au cours de la période historique pour différents sites du Cap Corse (France ; Figure 1). Cette région de Méditerranée se caractérise par une riche activité économique au cours de la période historique. Depuis le VIème siècle, la Corse a été colonisée successivement par les Grecs, les Carthaginois, les Etrusques puis par les Romains. En milieu continental, des témoins archéologiques (sépulture, oppidum, chapelle) attestent d’une occupation de cette zone sur une période assez longue. Cependant de nombreuses interrogations subsistent quant à l’importance des établissements, leurs périodes d’occupation, leurs activités économiques et leurs rapports commerciaux avec les autres cités du Cap Corse et des côtes méditerranéennes (de La Brière, 2010). Des carottes de 1 m à 1,5 m ont été prélevées à la tarière dans différents sites du Cap Corse. Les concentrations en éléments majeurs et en éléments traces métalliques ont été mesurées par spectrométrie de masse (ICP-MS), activation neutronique (INAA) et par XRF core scanner. Les datations 14C réalisées sur des macrorestes de matières végétales et charbons montrent que ces carottes couvrent toute la période historique, à l’exception de celle prélevée à Méria qui ne couvre qu’environ 300 ans. Cette carotte a également la particularité de contenir d’importantes concentrations en métaux lourds tels que le Sb (2000 ppm) et l’As (300 ppm). Cette contamination est d’origine locale et liée à la présence d’une ancienne mine d’antimoine à 2 km en amont de Méria. Afin d’obtenir un enregistrement sur les 2000 dernières années, un carottage plus long sera réalisé lors d’une nouvelle campagne de terrain. D’autres carottages seront également réalisés entre la mine et la côte actuelle afin d’observer la variation spatiale dans le but de quantifier l’impact environnemental des activités humaines locales et régionales. [less ▲]

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See detailGeoarchaeology of the ancient city of Utica (Tunisia) and evolution of the Medjerda delta's palaeoenvironment
Pleuger, Elisa ULiege; Goiran, Jean-Philippe; Delile, Hugo et al

Conference (2014, March 05)

The Phoenician Utica remains today largely unknown, as well as the role that the ancient city held in the Phoenician expansion in the western Mediterranean. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mentioned Utica ... [more ▼]

The Phoenician Utica remains today largely unknown, as well as the role that the ancient city held in the Phoenician expansion in the western Mediterranean. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mentioned Utica as a maritime and port city and evaluate its origin around the 11th c. BC.. However, in the present state of research, no archaeological evidence goes back beyond the 7th c. BC.. Today, the ancient port city is located in the heart of the Medjerda delta, 10 km inland. Although the Utica site has been the subject of archaeological excavations since the 19th c., the location of port infrastructures, dating from Phoenician and Roman periods, remains unknown. Based on this observation, our research focuses on two main issues: Where are the port infrastructures of Utica? Why the city, formerly a seaport city, is today located 10 km from the coast? The location and the study of port infrastructures will bring primordial elements of response to the question of the city founding. The study of river paleoenvironments of the Medjerda delta during the Holocene aim to a better understanding of the nature of the settlement, as well as the function of the city of Utica. This study will also assess the impact of the ancient city on the environment and understand how the city has adapted to the mobility of this Mediterranean delta. Furthermore, the study of sedimentary processes causing the filling of the harbour basin will lead to speculate about the causes of the abandonment of the structures and more generally the decline of the city in favor of the city of Carthage. It will also detect if natural or anthropogenic factors have influenced this deltaic progradation over the centuries. This project proposes an interdisciplinary reflection to understand the Medejerda delta landscape changes during the Holocene. It starts from an archaeological problem and proposes the contribution of geoarchaeology to the understanding of the relationship between ancient societies and their environment. A major originality of this project lies in the multidisciplinary approach, which aim to provide an evolutive image of the landscapes of the Medjerda watershed, and to precise the sedimentary record considering control variables such as climate and anthropogenic pressure. The study of fluvial palaeoenvironments and sedimentary processes will be carried out through the mechanical extraction of cores (~10 m deep) to reach the early Holocene. Selected sediment samples will then be studied in laboratory, using different and complementary approaches. Particle size analysis and quartz morphoscopy will help to clarify the processes involved in the successive phases of deposits associated with different sedimentary environments. It will be supplemented by a series of sedimentological (magnetic susceptibility, mineralogy, organic and inorganic geochemistry) and biological analyses (pollen, ostracods) to reconstruct the evolution of the landscape over the last millennia. This reconstruction will be related to climate changes during the Holocene. The combination of mineralogical and geochemical approaches will help to identify the origin of clay minerals to determine their source regions and to highlight contamination by human activities. The influence of anthropogenic factors will be confirmed by analysing lead isotopes. Meanwhile, a series of radiocarbon dating will be conducted to establish the chrono-stratigraphic framework of the different evolution phases of the delta. More generally, this project focuses on the importance of knowledge of the past to understand and grasp the consequences of the human impact on the environment, more specifically on the deltaic environments. [less ▲]

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See detailSTUDY OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION OVER THE HISTORICAL PERIOD: TRACE ELEMENT AND LEAD ISOTOPIC SIGNATURE IN COASTAL SEDIMENTS FROM CAP CORSICA (FRANCE)
Fontaine, François ULiege; lefebvre, lucie; Vranken, François et al

Poster (2014, February)

The Mediterranean coasts have been characterised by intense maritime commercial exchanges since Antiquity. Archeological researches reveal that Cape Corsica (France) may have been an ancient Roman harbor ... [more ▼]

The Mediterranean coasts have been characterised by intense maritime commercial exchanges since Antiquity. Archeological researches reveal that Cape Corsica (France) may have been an ancient Roman harbor. The purpose of this study is first to highlight an anthropogenic contamination due to Roman activities using trace element concentration. Second we aim to identify the contamination sources through Pb isotope composition. Radiocarbon ages performed on macroremains in coastal sediments from Cala Francese (cores CF10-II and CF10-III) allow the localisation of the Roman Period in the sedimentary columns. In core CF 10-II, two major shifts of trace element concentration (such as Pb, Cu, Zn, As and Sb) have been measured at 60-80 and 140-160 cm, corresponding respectively to the Industrial Revolution and to the Roman Period. The same tendency of the Pb concentration is observed in core CF10-III. In this core, the Roman Period is localised between 80 and 140 cm. A major shift in Pb isotopic composition is observed in both core at 140 cm in CF10-II and 60 cm in CD10-III, with a decrease of 206Pb/207Pb ratios and 208Pb/206Pb ratios. All the Pb isotopic ratios match with Pb Roman time signatures from Greece and Spain. Such significant changes in trace metal content and in Pb isotopic signature of sediments are consistent with Human perturbations of the environment during the Roman and Industrial periods. The Pb isotopic signatures measured in Cala Francese are in the same range as those located in other sites of Cape Corsica, indicating a regional contamination. [less ▲]

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