Italy Prehistory – Eneolithic

By | February 7, 2022

The introduction of the first metal objects (flat axes and triangular copper daggers, and some silver ornaments) did not disturb the substantial aspect of civilization, in whose bosom the ceramic and lithic industries are greatly perfected, and which above all keeps the inhumatory funeral rite and the housing system unchanged. Natural caves continue, such as in S. Canziano (Trieste) and in the Veneto, Liguria and Tuscany; and the straminee huts, circular or elliptical, sometimes rectangular as in Sicily (Sette Farine in Terranova), and also reinforced by dry stone walls (Veronese, Sicily), mostly clustered in dense villages. To the earth pits with the corpse mostly huddled, constituting true necropolis such as the most famous of Remedello Sotto in Bresciano (other important tombs in Ripoli in Teramano, in Villafranca Veronese, in Bresciano, Mantovano, Cremonese, in Tuscany and Umbria, in Viterbo, in Benevento, etc.), burials in cysts (Val d’Aosta, Liguria) and more widely those in caves are rare natural (Trentino, Liguria, Tuscany, etc.). But a new type appears, that of the small room artificially carved into the rock (oven tomb, calatoia), characteristic above all of Sicily in true necropolis (Castelluccio nel Siracusano, Monte Sara near Agrigento, Capaci near Palermo); it is also found in an important necropolis of Sardinia (Anghelu Ruju near Alghero), and, in isolation, in the island of Pianosa, in Lazio (Cantalupo-Mandela, Sgurgola), in the Materano, where the type persisted in the Aenean age. There are also certain examples of huts changed into tombs (in the Benevento area, in Ripoli,

As for the dwelling in huts, the largest and most complex examples of which are provided by the villages of Ripoli and Serra d’Alto, the defensive fence system with large trenches, well studied in the Matera area (Serra d’Alto, Murgecchia, Tirlecchia) and also present in Sicily (Stentinello), where the enclosure with a stone wall (Branco Grande near Camarina) also appears. In these eneolithic times, therefore, we have the true principle of especially funerary architecture.

The improvement of the lithic industry reaches high degrees in the perforation (hammers, mace heads, rings) and in the meticulous chipping of the flint (daggers, spearheads, arrows); that of ceramic art not only in the best firing and in the shapes of the vases, but especially in the ornamentation (well-designed terracotta engravings, as in the stations of Molfetta and Siracusano), and finally in the production of the first ceramic painted on a glazed surface , which, although of foreign, oriental origin, reaches significant effects in southern Italy (Molfetta, Matera, Capri) and Sicily (Megara Iblea) (see Aeneolithic, civilization). And in this period the mining activity also began (eg the flint mines at Monte Tabuto in Syracuse); the commercial one intensified, both between the Italian regions themselves for the exchange of copper, cinnabar, green stones, especially obsidian, which had the island of Lipari as its primary center, and with foreign countries. From the Iberian Peninsula, a great hearth of Eneolithic culture, perhaps the “bell glass” collected in tombs in the north (Cremonese) as well as in the south (Villafrati in Sicily) spread, silver objects were imported (pin of Remedello, breastplate of Villafranca Veronese) and the so-called halberd; from the Aegean East the famous carved bones of Castelluccio, similar to those of Troia, reached Sicily, and in Sardinia the Cycladic-type marble idols, found at Anghelu Ruju, and imitated. Other infantile plastic essays have been collected in Liguria (Arene Candide, Pollera) and in Puglia; while in Malta a real sculptural activity developed:

But, singularly, in northern Italy, it is the plant and the first development of lake dwellings on stilts, which will become more characteristic in the following age. In central-western Lombardy the oldest pile dwellings date back to this period, if not already at the end of the same pure Neolithic; and although the study of pile-dwelling materials, given the inevitable natural mixing, is difficult, some short-term stations better serve the determination of archaicity (Polada near Desenzano, Ca ‘de Cioss and Lagazzi in Cremonese, Cataragna in Bresciano, etc.) .

Even older than those of the Aenean age, the Venetian pile dwellings (Arquà, Fimon) must be considered, which L. Pigorini included in his “oriental” group not crossing the Mella-Oglio line, considering it more linked to the terramare; today the distinction of the two groups from a chronological point of view is no longer admitted by scholars.

Basically uniform, the Eneolithic civilization also presents notable regional differences, which will be the foundation of the more sensitive ones of subsequent ages. Sicily has its own characteristics, and so does Sardinia, and different from the peninsular culture, which has already varied, albeit slightly. GA Colini recognized three aspects or groups: 1. of the oldest stilts in Lombardy; 2. of the graves in the earth or cave in northern and central Italy; 3. of the Tuscan and Lazio coast (to which the south can be added), having as its most salient feature the use of artificial funerary caves. Perhaps any effort to establish a safe chronological succession is premature, other than the recognition of initial deposits, which connect to the Sicilian villages of the Stentinello type (previously attributed to the Eneolithic,

If in the first pile dwellings one can suppose, with the Pigorini, the descent of people from Switzerland, a “classic” country in this regard, in general the archaeologists, for the whole complex of peninsular stations, do not think of a change in race (unlike some historian who already sees the entry of Italic elements); which breed, which according to some should be called Ibero-Ligurian, is essentially the Mediterranean.

Italy Prehistory - Eneolithic