Italy in Neolithic Ages Part II

Central Italy

During the 6th millennium BC, when the whole peninsula was already intensely inhabited, central Adriatic Italy still appears linked to epipaleolithic forms of hunting-gathering: numerous small settlements have been identified, in which the productive economy is acquired with different times and ways, without that compactness that characterizes the Italy southern coastal; ergology, especially in lithic instruments, indicates a continuity in manufacturing techniques and ways of subsistence. The stratigraphic sequence of Grotta dei Piccioni in Bolognano (Pescara), with its levels dated by 14C (4297 BC for the lower level, with ceramic impressed and painted in red), constitutes an important chronological framework for the Neolithic of the Italy central Adriatic which arises, in its initial moments, in the second half of the millennium. The high coasts, the lack of easy landings, the mountainous nature of the terrain, must also have influenced the economic solutions, favoring in many cases a development of breeding, perhaps with forms of transhumant pastoralism, as the seasonal frequentations of some caves seem to indicate.. Real villages (Catignano, Villaggio Leopardi, Ripoli), in the Abruzzo and Marche plains, indicate agricultural subsistence models, in which breeding is integrated by well-developed agriculture. Ripoli’s facies (➔ # 10132;) shows considerable duration and diffusion, as evidenced by the numerous fragments of typical figuline pottery in many inhabited areas of the Italy central and northern. The openness to traffic and trade is demonstrated, among other things, in the Abruzzo sites, by the constant presence of obsidian from Lipari.

According to ITYPEAUTO, the western Tyrrhenian side is characterized by less systematic finds: in Lazio, the cave of Sasso di Furbara (➔Sasso) revealed a series of burials, accompanied by a particular ceramic, with very strong affinities with that of the Emilian Neolithic (facies of Sasso -Fiorano). Other findings typical of this aspect come from Grotta dell’Orso (➔ Sarteano), from Romita di Asciano (Pisa), from Palidoro (Rome); the inhabited areas in caves or in rock shelters (Asciano, Palidoro) seem to indicate a prevalent development of farming, while agriculture is documented in real open-air villages (in Pienza, in Tuscany, spelled seeds were found, soft wheat, barley). The earliest dating from 14C for the Tyrrhenian Neolithic is that of the Grotta dell’Orso (4130 ± 200), with a large chronological shift compared to similar situations on the eastern side. Some funerary testimonies seem to indicate an articulation of the social structure of these Neolithic communities, such as eg. in a burial, isolated from the others, found in the Grotta del Sasso di Furbara.

Northern Italy 

The excavations of L. Bernabò Brea at the Arene Candide, in Liguria, laid the foundations for a sequence of northern Neolithic cultures, with base levels in impressed ceramics, followed by levels of the phase of the square-mouthed vases and finally the phase of the Lagozza. The Neolithization of the Italy Northern seems to take place with a certain delay compared to Italy peninsular and does not seem to alter a Mesolithic economy in many cases. The use of new subsistence techniques is still largely integrated with hunting and gathering of marine molluscs. The inhabited areas in caves, frequent in the Ligurian area, confirm the adaptation to environmental situations not strongly characterized by a productive economy.

At the end of the 5th-beginning of the 4th millennium BC, the Fiorano facies, widespread above all in the Reggiano and Modenese areas, with offshoots in the Veneto region and affinity with the Lazio facies of the Sasso, is linked. The fragmentation of the data relating to the inhabited areas does not allow for deductions of a social nature or on the general layout; links with the Mesolithic substratum are evident in the economy, still largely based on hunting, fishing and gathering, although agriculture and livestock are documented. In this complex process, the interacting elements are manifold: contacts with Italy central are attested by figuline pottery present in sites of Fiorano, but the Danubian influences must have been particularly strong.

For the full Neolithic period, characterized by square-mouthed vases (4th millennium), close contacts are attested between the Ligurian caves and the villages of the Po Valley and Trentino. The latter present various structural solutions, from the wells of Rivoli Veronese to the cobblestones of La Vela di Trento; in Fimon-Molino Casa; broken there is one of the first evidence of an inhabited area on reclamation along the banks of a lake basin. The necropolis of this facies are well documented; in Chiozza the depositions reveal, in the kits, a marked differentiation by sex: male ones with tools and weapons, indicating a defined division of labor and tasks within the community. Indications on the tribal structure seem to provide the tombs of La Vela, where the three construction types (simple pit, pit with a stone perimeter, cist with stone slabs) perhaps highlight hierarchies and rank systems more developed than elsewhere. This cultural facies assumes precise characterizations that locally highlight strong Balkan components (female clay figurines, pintadere, etc.). The fracture, sometimes documented even stratigraphically, with the previous tradition is evident: new solutions and adaptations suggest in some areas, such as in the Adige valley, a full development of productive activity (agriculture and livestock).

Italy in Neolithic Ages 1