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Prehistoric cave – Fumane

Località Valsorda, Via Val del Progno (rise "salita Molina") – 37022 Fumane (VR)
Tel. 045 7701920
Summary


The archaeological investigations have demonstrated that the Fumane cave was occasionally occupied during middle and upper Palaeolithic, between 100.000 and 32.000 years ago. The area conserves the remains of a reiterated use of the cave, which are documented by about 20 layers containing stone artefacts, bones, shells, traces of fireplaces, living areas and some decorations in red ochre.

History of research

The Fumane cave was discovered by Giovanni Solinas in 1964, during the renovation of the road Fumane-Breonio. Some preliminary researches were conducted in that same year by the archaeologists Mezzena and Pasa who brought to light the middle-lower deposits of the site along the big section that was opened to extend the old public road Fumane-Molina. After the stratigraphic check that was carried out in 1982-1983, since 1988 systematic excavations have been carried out by the General Direction for Archaeological Heritage in the Veneto region in collaboration with the universities of Ferrara and Milano and with the Special General Direction for Prehistory and Ethnology of the Museum L. Pigorini in Rome. These excavations have allowed to identify the middle and upper deposits at the site, with their Aurignacian artifacts, and to suppose the existence and excavate the complex of inner galleries which had been blocked by a landslide.

Urban and geographical context

The cave is located at an altitude of 350 metres above sea level, on the left slope of the “Vajo di Manune”, in the western Lessini mountains. It is connected to a complex system of fossil caves which have not yet been fully investigated and which contributed to the creation of a deposit over 10 metres thick.

Chronology

Middle and upper Paleolithic: 100.000-10.000 before present

Description

Fumane is recognized by the scientific international community as one of the most important prehistoric sites in Europe, because it conserves, in an exceptional stratigraphy, traces of its use by the last Neanderthals and by the earliest Homo sapiens. The deposits also constitute an important source of information for understanding the Lessini environment during the last glacial age, with its various changes between humid subtropical and dry cold climates.
The cave is 9 metres large and has many galleries up to 13 metres. Within the cave the archaeologists have identified two settlement phases: the most ancient one refers to the Neanderthals and spans between 100.000 and 34.000 years ago, the most recent one spans between 34.000 and 10.000 years ago.
The most ancient remains, which refer to the Neanderthal, have been identified on small areas between 6 and 8 squared metres and included tens of thousands of flint and fauna fragments incorporated in well preserved settlement layers. Some areas are particularly relevant because of the richness of the remains in connection to the production of flint tools as per the Levallois technique, to the breaking of bones and to the lighting of fires.
The combustion areas are placed either directly on the ground or in small holes, nine of which have been found at the site, surrounded by flint fragments and tools and by herbivores’ intentionally broken bones. The cutting of the animals, particularly ibexes and deers, is documented by a great amount of bones which sometimes are still anatomically connected and which are normally associated to stone tools. The overall set of findings suggests that the economy here was based on hunting.
The remains that pertain to Homo sapiens document a repeated temporary use of the cave, and the analysis of faunal data suggest that it would happen between the end of spring and autumn. They include some medium-large fireplaces, the traces of a possible hut, a large quantity of flint tools and wastes, together with sea shells, some red ochre areas and the remains of the decoration of the cave’s vault, again in red ochre. The combustion areas are in semicircular holes with the diameter between 100 and 50 centimetres and depth between 20 and 5 centimetres. These holes contain charcoal layers and are slightly red because of the fire. They contain burnt flint fragments and bones of ibex and deer.
An artefact of relevant importance is a stone that was found on the site and which represents an anthropomorphic figure with the hands high to the sky, the so-called shaman. The stone dates back to the Aurignacian (upper Palaeolithic).
The analysis of the faunal data suggests the hypothesis that Homo sapiens hunted in different places, all close to the site, and that he did not focus on one particular type of prey. In fact, the game was from altitudes that were above and below that of the Fumane cave, respectively from the alpine grasslands and the rocks environments, such as in the case of ibex and chamoises, and from the wood below the cave, such as in the case of deers and roe-deers.


Visiting

Admission: Su prenotazione

Visitability: Interno

Ticket: Si

Price: Groups of less than 10 people : 60,00 euro
Groups between 10 and 24 people : 6,00 euro per person
Groups of over 25 people : 5,00 euro per person

School access
Upon reservation

Opening Times

Recommended tour time (minutes): 60

Services for visitors

Parking

Bar/Resaturant
Restaurant in front of the parking place

Educational Services

Brochure

Information boards

Guided Tours
Guided tours by the association "Consorzio Pro Loco Valpolicella" (tel. – fax 045 7701920)

Educational activities
Teaching activities by the association "Consorzio Pro Loco Valpolicella" (tel. – fax 045 7701920)

Library and documentation centre


Bibliography

Pasa A., Mezzena F. 1964, Stazione della Neve, in Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche, XIX, pp. 296.
Bartolomei G., Broglio A., Cattani L., Cremaschi M., Guerreschi A., Leonardi P. 1984, Paleolitico e Mesolitico, in Il Veneto nell’antichità. Preistoria e Protostoria, a cura di Aspes A., Verona, pp. 173.
Pitture Paleolitiche nelle Prealpi Venete: Grotta di Fumane e Riparo Dalmeri, Atti del Simposio (Verona, 19-20 giugno 2003) 2005, in Memorie del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Verona, s. 2, sez. Scienze dell’Uomo, 9, a cura di A. Broglio, G. Dalmeri .
Bonetto J. 2009, Veneto (Archeologia delle Regioni d’Italia), Roma, pp. 459-460.


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