Archeology X-Files

Devil’s Footprint – The Mystery And The Lore

Devil’s Footprint- The Mystery And The Lore

Volcanic eruption is associated with streaming lava. This hot and molten liquid causes immense destruction to the mankind and the surroundings alike. Hence, people, archeologists and researchers were taken aback when they witnessed set of humanoid footprints descending the side of the Roccamonfina Volcano, at Northern Italy.

The locals believe in the legend that the footprint was made by the Devil. In accordance with them, the footprints also known as the Devils’ footprint on the hot burning lava is instigation enough that demon came out of hell through the opening of the volcano and joined mankind on the planet. In fact, this lore was believed by all, until 2002 when 2 novice archeologists portrayed this trail of footprints to the world.

What exactly is the Devil’s footprint?

  • The site is nestled amidst the small towns of Tuoro/Foresta and Piccilli in Campania, Italy.
  • There is not one, but, three sets of fossilized footprints along with scattered handprints.
  • The two theories centering on the footprints imply that they were either devils’ mark or of animal origin.

Devil’s Footprint- The Mystery And The Lore

What do the researchers conclude?

  • The researchers of the University of Padua revealed the footprints to be of human origin.
  • The footprints dated between 385,000 and 325,000 years ago.
  • Hence, the Devil’s footprints are basically the oldest known Homo genus footprints.
  • The pyroclastic volcanic flow impressed the tracks, which was later covered with volcanic ash.
  • By the late 18th or maybe the early 19th century, the process of erosion wiped away the volcanic layers and result was- the imprints.
devils-footprints-roccamonfina-volcano-campania-italyThe three sets of prints from Roccamonfina show that these individuals were fully bipedal and were navigating a steep descent. The tracks have some sharp hairpin turns, indicating at times they were negotiating some precarious moments.

What are the most remarkable aspects of the Devil’s footprints?

  • While, there has been the mention of the footprint, all the while, the researchers found occasional handprint too alongside the footprints, on the cliff face of the volcano.
  • This led to the implication that the tracks were made by the hominids. It was like the hominids walked on their foot, but needed to steady themselves by balancing with their hands.
  • The hominids made sure that they chose the path downside.
  • In fact, the first set of track consisted of 27 footprints. It forms a “Z” shape. It is the latter which suggests that the pedestrian adopted the switchback technique when going downhill.
  • The second and third set of tracks inculcated 19 and 10 tracks respectively, which formed comparatively straight lines.
  • The footprints are 8 inches and 4 inches wide. The average stride is about 4 feet and the average space between the two feet is almost 2 feet. These measurements conclude with the fact that the hominids which travelled were 5 feet tall.
  • In accordance with Mietto- “These tracks were made by pre-sapien species, possibly a late European Homo Erectus or Homo Heidelbergensis”.
Homo erectus is an extinct species of hominid that lived throughout most of the Pleistocene geological epoch. Its earliest fossil evidence dates to 1.9 million years ago and the most recent to 70,000 years ago.

Thus, there is the immense probability that the people back then were trying to escape the volcanic eruption. However, it is still a mystery with regards to the objective with which these people were in close vicinity of a volcano!

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