The Caves of Liguria

The Caves of Liguria - (Ground floor)

The visit continues on the ground floor of the Museum in the four rooms on the east side and concerns the findings from the prehistoric caves of Liguria: Balzi Rossi (IM), Toirano (SV), the caves of Arene Candide and Pollera and numerous other caves of the Finalese (SV).

During the ice age these caves were frequented by men and animals such as bears, cave lions, leopards and hyenas: in the first room you can see the bones of these animals in addition to stone tools left by Neanderthals, the species that had inhabited Europe for over 200,000 years. Our species, Homo Sapiens, who arrived from Africa, used the Ligurian caves to shelter from the cold and environmental difficulties of the time. In the first room the figures of Neanderthal and Sapiens with two skulls and spears, allow us to compare the anatomy and weapons of the two species which lived in Liguria. Between about 30,000 and 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals became extinct and our species took their place not but before their meetings had resulted in a sharing of genetic heritage, in fact Europeans typically have between 1% to 4% Neanderthal genes.

At the end of the ice age, people arrive on the Ligurian coast from the sea bringing with them domestic animals and plants, as well as new knowledge and technology, as can be seen from the objects on the platform of the second room: cereals, green stone tools, containers in ceramics, ways to treat wool,… .These pioneers originate from the Near East, where millennia before, people had learned to grow and cook cereals and legumes and to raise goats, sheep, pigs and cattle. This period is referred to as the "Neolithic Revolution" and is exceptionally documented at the Caves of Arene Candide (SV) from which the exhibits displayed in this room come.

In the third room you can find the numerous traces of the Neolithic presence in our region: a hundred caves, between Liguria and Provence, were inhabited by groups of farmers and herders, some for very long periods. These are the water caves, of the Armorari, of Galluzzo, Bergeggi, of the Sanguineto, all in the Finale area (SV). These caves have offered up an extraordinary selection of materials from that period: terracotta pots, axes in green stone, shells, red ochre, bones of bred animals and even burials. The two exhibits refer to a child suffering from bone tuberculosis and to an elderly person, who lived in the 5th millennium BC. in the Pollera cave.

The last room of this visit is dedicated to the Pollera Cave: this Finalese cave was highly frequented from the Neolithi to the metal age and numerous burials were found in it including that of the "boy with shells", a young man of about 18 years whose burial is covered with numerous shells: Charonia, Spondylus, Ostrea. Inside the cave, which is about 4 km from the sea, traces of a shell-making workshop were found to create pendants, necklaces, musical instruments, hooks and tools.