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Prehistoric Times. 

500,000 +  yrs ago (Lower Paleolithic) - Settlements were generally situated in coastal caves, in shelters at the base of rock walls or near lake shores. Some Sites have been discovered in:

  • Pineta di Isernia (730,000 yrs ago)
  • Quinzano (Verona) (over 400,000 yrs)
  • Lazio (Torre in Pietra, Fontana Liri, Anagni, Arce)
  • Abruzzo (Teramano, Maiella)
  • Basilicata (Venosa)
  • Puglia (Gargano)
  • Campania (Capri and Sant' Angelo a Fasanella)
  • Liguria (Balzi Rossi).

120,000 to 36,000 years ago (Middle Paleolithic) - During this time period Neanderthals'  lived in the caves of:

  • Circeo (Lazio),
  • the terraces of the Tiber Valley (Rome),
  • the coast of the Salento (Grotta Romanelli)
  • the coast  of the Gargano (Puglia),
  • Western Liguria (Balzi Rossi and Finalese) and many other sites.

36,000  to 10,000 years ago  (Upper Paleolithic)- This is when Homo sapiens (modern man) emerged. They were hunters and gatherers. Evidence of their presence includes:

  • engravings and graffiti in the caves of M. Pellegrino and Levanzo in Sicily, in Grotta Romanelli on the Salento Coast and the Balzi Rossi in Liguria
  • statues like the small female figures  from Savignano and Chiozza di Scandiano were found in Emilia
  • Venus figurines were found at  the Balzi Rossi in Liguria
  • many of these sites were rich in burials, animal bones, and tools

10,000 to 6, 000 years ago (Mesolithic period)- During this period inhumations (burials) came into use and small tools were prevalent. Sites from this period have been found throughout the entire Italian peninsula:

  • Balzi Rossi, Arene Candide
  • Colli Berici (Covolo della Paina)
  • Capri (Grotta delle Felci) 
  • Positano (Grotta La Porta)

6, 000 B.C. to 2, 800 B.C. (Neolithic period)- The traditional hunting and gathering economy was replaced by the introduction of agriculture, stock rearing, weaving and pottery

2,800 to 1,800 B.C. (Copper Age)- Characterized by the use of copper (alongside stone), introduced into Italy from the Eastern Mediterranean. A pastoral way of life  (semi-permanent  winter settlements on lower ground , usually in caves by water-courses,  and summer pastures high in the mountains). This Pastoral way of life dominated the cultures of people of the Apennine mountains that developed especially in Central-Southern Italy including Corleto Monforte

1,800 to 1,400 B.C. (Bronz Age)-During this time period true regional groupings began to emerge, with highly organized social structures and territorial ranges.  The “Terramare”  cultures (Terramaracoli = ‘dark earth’), possibly coming from the Danube in the north-east,  spread over the Po valley in the north. The Terremare practiced agriculture and stock-raising and  lived in huts. This cultural group also marked  the change of rite from inhumation (burials) to cremation (urnfield cultures).

1,400 – 500 B.C.  (Iron Age)- Much of  Italy was  occupied by people known as Villanovans, after a site discovered in Villanova, about 5 miles east of Bologna.  Scullard (1967) notes that the Villanovans were not a single cultural group but a label used by archeologists to describe a large collection of cultural  groups living during the Iron Age.  Northern Villanovans  were living in  the modern provinces of Bologna, Faenza, Forli, & Ravenna; Etruscans eventually occupied these areas. Evidence of  Villanovan culture is also found in Southern Italy – in Eturia, Latium and Campania. For example, at Pontecognano in Campania  (about 6 miles south of Salerno and northwest of Corleto) about 330 tombs dating from 800 – 550 BC were found in 1958 excavations. 

REFERENCES

 

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Last updated: March 23, 2000