Winners of WSC19: General category

The following post list the winners of WSC 2019.

The winning image of the General category presents us archeological campaign at Grotta dei Santi, a prehistoric site located in Tuscany and dated to the Middle Palaeolithic. It was taken by Stefano Ricci Cortili.

Archaeological excavation at Grotta dei Santi (Monte Argentario, Italy)

Comment from the author:

I am a technician at the Anthropology Laboratory of the Department of Physical Sciences, Earth and Environment (Research Unit in Prehistory and Anthropology) of the University of Siena and a member of the Fisiocritici Academy of Siena. Thanks to my skills in anatomical drawing, I have had the opportunity to do scientific illustrations and replicas of fossil specimens for Italian and foreign museums and magazines. I combined my artistic skills with a constant commitment in the academic field, as testified by publications in physical paleoanthropology in prestigious scientific international journals. Photography is also a very important part of my work and allowed me to do the cover images of the 2003 May issue of PNAS and the 2019 October issue of Nature – Ecology&Evolution.

My research group is focusing on the reconstruction of the behavior and subsistence strategies of past human populations, and is carrying out excavations in some of the key sites of Paleolithic Italy. This activity requires the work of many specialists from different disciplines, engaged both in laboratory activities and in the field. My photographs thus become a sort of trait d’union that fixes in time research phases, studied contexts and archaeological specimens from a distant past. Photographic documentation is fundamental in every phase of our research, not only in the lab, but also during fieldworks. This, in fact, represents the unrepeatable moment in which the finds (future research data) are extracted from the sediment that sealed them.

Behind every excavation there are people, stories and close collaborations between many different specialists. This is true in “ordinary” excavations but even more so in the more “special” ones, such as the prehistoric site of Grotta dei Santi (Municipality of Monte Argentario, Tuscany, central Italy), where this picture was taken. The site is in excavation by the Department of Physical Sciences, Earth and Environment of the University of Siena in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per le Province di Siena, Grosseto e Arezzo. Some of the last Italian Neanderthals dwelled in this site between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago. The cave is accessible only by sea, which gives to the site a breath-taking scenery. For logistical reasons, during the fieldwork, the life of the scholars takes place almost entirely in the cave. Each archaeologist has his own tent, the base camp is installed a few meters from the excavation area, where the Neanderthal campsites were set thousands years ago. A very immersive experience! In such an excavation, coordination and cooperation become indispensable. Among the numerous institutions involved, the Fire Brigade of Grosseto, which is present in this photo, is fundamental for the invaluable logistic support they offered to the team.


Aerial view of the tributary of the Chusovaya river, Sverdlovsk region. Author: Vasily Iakovlev from Russia
Telescope’s tower crane at Large azimuth telescope. Author: Maria Plotnikova from Russia
The road down from Teide volcano in Tenerife with the Milky way above it. Author: AstroAnthony from Ireland/Spain
Environmental disaster in Levikha Village, because of the massive sulfide underground mine. Author: Vasily Iakovlev from Russia
Meteor, satellite and aeroplane over the Paranal Observatory, Chile, with a stargazer in the foreground. Author: Yourong Wang from New Zealand / Chile
Safety demonstration: Li-ion battery cell exploded after hitting it by hammer. Author: Tavo Romann from Estonia

Images were published under CC BY 4.0 license.