Archaeological Museum of Bologna

Museo Civico Archeologico
Via dell'Archiginnasio 2 - 40124 Bologna

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Collections / Sections / Bologna in prehistory

The Bronze Age villages

In the Bologna area there are no traces of structured settlements for the entire Early Bronze Age, although the area could not have been completely depopulated, as documented in particular by findings of pottery from this phase. Their fragmentariness and the lack of stratigraphic data make them difficult to interpret.
The central phase of the Middle Bronze Age (1550–1450 BC) saw a radical change in the occupation strategy of the plains south of the Po, with the advent of a new type of settlement: the terramara, composed of timber-framed huts surrounded by earthwork and a trench.
The widespread distribution of Terramara villages (5–6 km apart from each other), the uniformity of the settlement structures and the materials that have been found document a solid territorial organization.

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The economy was based on agriculture and the breeding of livestock (sheep, goats, cattle and pigs). The production of pottery, used for the storage of foodstuffs and as tableware, is characterized by forms and decorations that are uniformly distributed throughout most of the plains, even north of the Po. The multiple and varied forms of raised handles are typical of the different phases. In the Terramara era, the workmanship of hard materials obtained from animals developed enormously, and bone and horn were used to make implements, weapons and decorative elements.

Bowls – and particularly those made as tableware, characterized by a fine impasto and an elegant polished surface – frequently had handles with raised plastic decorations shaped like horns. The careful execution of these elements indicates their importance, which may also have been symbolic. The variations in their forms, often imaginative and elaborate, combined with the evolution of the profiles and decorations of the receptacles on which they were modelled, constitute a valid element for defining the chronological evolution of Terramara pottery production and identifying the various cultural influences.

Provenance: Montirone di Sant’Agata Bolognese (Bologna); Crespellano, Pragatto (Bologna)
Datation: Middle Bronze Age III (1440–1330 BC)
Material: Impasto
Inventory #: 30193, 9279.

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Exhibition rooms | Room I - Prehistoric section