Prehistory and Protohistory

Prehistory and proto-history section in the Archeological Museum in Como.

The illustration of the evolutionary process that led to the appearance of mankind in the area of Como introduces the exhibition of chronologically ordered archaeological materials, discovered in the city of Como area.

The first local testimonies, dating back to the Middle Paleolithic (60,000-35,000 years ago), are those found in Bagaggera, near Rovagnate, and in the cave of Buco del Piombo, in Erba. The excavations on Mount Cornizzolo and Erbonne in Valle Intelvi, both sites frequented by hunters-gatherers 7,000 years ago during the seasonal hunting trips, illustrate the Mesolithic period (8,000-4,500 years ago).

Around the middle of the 5th millennium BC agriculture and breeding spread, the production of ceramics and polished stone tools began, stable settlements were built: this is the beginning of the Neolithic period. The excavation of Montano Lucino, is one of the few sites that, at the current state of research, documents the full phases of the Neolithic in the Como area.
The recent Neolithic (III millennium BC) is instead represented by the material coming from a site of great interest: the lake-side station of Lago di Besnate (Varese), which has reached the Museum through 19th-century collectors.

The culture of Canegrate (recent Bronze Age) is represented by the outfits of the necropolis discovered in the 1930s in Appiano Gentile (Como), which testify to the emergence of cremation as a funeral practice and offers the first examples of ceramic kits.

The Iron Age exhibition. Even in Como, as often happens with the most ancient civilizations, the image of society is mainly rebuilt through the study of the necropolis. The burials are characterized by the funeral rite of cremation: the ashes were placed inside an urn and placed in the tomb together with objects of ornament and vases as funerary equipment of the deceased.

Through many dozens of objects found in graves, we understand the evolution of the Golasecca culture extended from the Alpine watershed to the course of the Po, from Sesia to Adda river. The main discovery centers are located on the Ticino river and even more in the Como area, where the settlement continuity is attested from the XI to the IV century BC.

Among the most significant materials of the most ancient phases we mention the "tomb of the cart" ("tomba del carrettino" in Italian), the lid of Grandate, decorated with embossed bronze, arrived in Como from the Venetian area, and the rich outfits of the Golasecca IIB period characterized by the presence of the stamp decoration.
The objects found in the tombs testify to the progressive opening of the Golasecca peoples to the exchanges with the transalpine world on one side and, on the other, to the central-Italic area where the Etruscan civilization will develop. These contacts will determine the great flowering of the Como area in the 5th century BC, the period from which the "tomba del carrettino" came to light in Cava Butti di Lazzago and many other tombs full of bronze vessels and ornaments.

The protohistoric era, there are a few materials made up of ceramics of common use, residues of domestic and artisan activities, but also including imported ceramics from the Greek area and a silver coin minted in Populonia, an exceptional discovery carried out in via Isonzo in Prestino.
The section ends with a very important heirloom: the so-called "Prestino stele", a long block of sandstone with an engraved inscription which is the main document for the knowledge of the language "leponzia", a Celtic dialect, which was spoken in the fifth century. a .C. in our territories.

The descent of the Gauls in Italy marks the fourth century. B.C. the beginning of the second Iron Age, documented in the city of Como only by the findings of Rondineto, and best represented by the grave goods of warriors from Valsassina and Valle Intelvi.