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THE UNDERGROUND LEVEL OF THE DUCAL COURTYARD:
PREHISTORIC SECTION OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM


THE IRON AGE

Northern Italy (9th-4th centuries BC): the Golasecca civilization
The Scamozzina and Canegrate cultural heritage is visible in findings from the Protogolasecca civilization, whose traditions continued with the Golasecca civilization. Probably of Celtic origin, the Protogolasecca civilization developed between the 12th and 10th centuries BC. Among the most interesting exhibits are necropolises, bronze hoards and metal objects such as arms left in lakes and rivers as religious offerings. The Golasecca civilization originated from the Protogolasecca. Numerous findings from major archaeological sites near Golasecca, Sesto Calende, Castelletto Ticino, Como and Bellinzona document the funerary aspects of this period, mainly consisting of tombs which have been found around the aforementioned areas. In addition to showing the changes and transformations occurred in rites and rituals throughout the centuries, the funerary objects on display also document the economic and social evolution of society (e.g. social differentiation and social stratification, urban migration between the 6th and 5th centuries BC). The area around Golasecca, Sesto Calende and Castelletto Ticino was abandoned during the 5th century BC for settling in new areas near Como, Bellinzona, Lugano, Bergamo, Lodi and Milan. The period also saw commercial exchanges playing their part in the flourishing of the Golasecca civilization. In exchange for metals - above all tin from northern Europe - the Golasecca centres imported oil and wine from Greece, bronze vases from Etruria, exquisite Attic ceramics, Arabian incense and coral.
   
Funerary objects from the Golasecca civilization dating from between the 11th and 7th centuries BC.
Warrior tomb in Sesto Calende
Among the foremost exhibits in the prehistoric section is a rich warrior tomb dated to the 7th century BC from Sesto Calende (near Varese). Found by a farm worker in March 1867, it was a nearly 2-meter-long ditch covered with a heap of stones about 1.5 meters high. A similar tomb dated to the early 6th century BC was subsequently found not far away. It has been assumed that these were the tombs of two members of the same family, most probably father and son, belonging to the upper classes of society.




Funerary objects from the warrior tomb in Sesto Calende, dated to the 7th century BC
The X tomb in Albate and the tomb in Trezzo sull'Adda
Among the exhibits in the prehistoric section are richly decorated objects, which were put into tombs in Albate (near Como) and in Trezzo (near Milan) to honour dead persons of high social standing between the 6th and 5th century BC. A bronze situla (bucket) decorated with embossed work used as a funerary urn, as well as a few vases from the tomb in Albate, are definitely worth a mention. A duck-shaped jar and bird-shaped cups seem to have been intended for ritual purposes. According to Nordic mythology, in fact, the aquatic bird is linked to the cult of the sun god, as it symbolizes a boat with bird-shaped stem and stern carrying the sun around the sky Other rich ornaments from this tomb include a fibula made of coral and decorated with four glass paste pearls and numerous pendants.
On display in the prehistoric section are also precious objects from a tomb which was found in Trezzo sull'Adda, in 1848. Mention should be made of a situla decorated with hunting scenes, a typically aristocratic play which has led to the assumption that the dead person certainly belonged to the upper classes of society.



Gallic invasions and the La Tène culture in Lombardy
Last but not least, the prehistoric section illustrates the La Tène culture, which imposed itself in northern Italy at the end of the 5th century BC. The name is derived from a site of archaeological investigation on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where a large number of objects have been found. Gallic invasions of Italy occurred around the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. The Gauls took control of a large area extending from Piedmont as far east as the city of Verona. The period between the 3rd and the 1st centuries BC provides much evidence of the arrival of Gallic populations in the Po river Valley. Black ceramics and bronze vases exhibited in the last display case, on the other hand, testify to importations from Rome. Rome asserted its control over northern Italy by founding colonies in the cities of Piacenza and Cremona (218 BC) and by establishing strategic alliances with the local populations. The Roman military intervention culminated in the final defeat of Gallic invaders in 194 BC. The annexation of the territory north of the Po River continued through a process of cultural subjugation, which lasted until the early 1st century AD.



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Castello Sforzesco - Piazza Castello   20121 MILAN