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Copper Age, middle of the 3rd millennium b.C.
Sandstone, 108 x 37 x 24 cm
In state storage (inv. no. 1911 329)
Villa di Novà, Zignago, La Spezia, 1827
The Sandstone stele found in 1827 in Zignago (La Spezia) together with another 52 works sculpted between the Copper Age and the Iron Age. It has an anthropomorphic shape: eyes and a nose are carved into the head and the body lacks any anatomical features or depictions of weaponry as can be found on other stelae from the Lunigiana area. These may be figures of hero-ancestors placed to mark fields, raw material deposits or pathways during the metal ages, an era marked by profound technological, social and economic change: the discovery and use of metal objects, the spread of Sheep-farming with its practice of burning forest to obtain pasture, and the establishment of clans and other groups formed by blood relatives, whose burials are found in caves or monumental tombs.
Around 2,500 years ago, the right-hand side of the stele was carved with Etruscan lettering: the word MEZUNEMUNIUS can be read from top to bottom, probably in a Ligurian language.