A dive into prehistory

Ph. Stefano Papetti, Sirmione Award for Photopraphy 2010

Sirmione is the geographical center of the the ancient pile-dwellings of Lake Garda: an area of great archaeological importance which over the years has yielded numerous finds and attestations relating to prehistoric settlements.

From the tip of the peninsula, on clear days, it is possible to see, within a radius of about 10 km, all the places that during the 2nd millennium BC. they housed the pile-dwelling settlements of the lake: from San Felice on the Lombard coast to Garda on the Veronese coast. Settlements of this type are also present throughout the Garda hinterland and in the morainic basins.

Most of these settlements are now submerged and, precisely these specific conditions, have allowed the conservation of organic materials such as wood and fabrics, allowing archaeologists to obtain valuable information on agriculture, livestock, housing and social life of the ancient populations of the time : a period over four millennia long, ranging from 5000 to 500 BC.

Lake-dwellings are part of the broader context of pile-dwelling sites in northern Italy (19 settlements) and prehistoric pile-dwelling sites in the Alps: 111 ancient villages that extend over 5 countries, from France to Slovenia and which since 2011 have been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The pile-dwelling site of Sirmione

Located in the Lugana Vecchia area, currently Colombare, the site has been studied since 1996 and has made it possible to detect the remains of the pile dwellings 100 meters from the coast line, with oak, elm and Turkey oak poles. Some materials had already been recovered since 1976, with a considerable wealth and variety of bronzes, coppers and stones, attributable to a foundry deposit. Other analyzes on the wood of the pile dwellings, carried out in 2006, made it possible to date them around the 17th century BC.

The Archaeological Museum of Sirmione, inside the archaeological area of the Grotte di Catullo, open to the public since 1999, collects the testimonies of the most ancient history of the city, including the objects recovered in the submerged pile dwellings along the coasts of the peninsula, between the ‘Oasi San Francesco and Maraschina, passing through Porto Galeazzi and Lugana Vecchia.

Other museums and pile-dwelling sites nearby

(20 minutes by car from Sirmione)

It preserves archaeological evidence from the territory of Desenzano del Garda and the surrounding areas. The heart of the display is represented by the materials found in the pile-dwelling sites of Polada and Lavagnone, among which an extraordinary wooden plow dating back to the Bronze Age stands out.

(40 minutes by car from Sirmione)

Collects the prehistoric remains that have characterized the entire Valtenesi, including finds from the pile-dwelling site of San Sivino of Manerba

(40 minutes by car from Sirmione)

It preserves historical and prehistoric evidence of the human communities of Valle Sabbia and the western Garda area. The exhibition itinerary focuses on the main discoveries in the area, such as the Monte Covolo complex and the extraordinary Bronze Age pile-dwelling settlements of Lucone of Polpenazze.

(50 minutes by car from Sirmione)

The prehistoric section contains finds from over 20 pile-dwelling settlements in the area of Lake Garda and the Veronese plain, including those from the pile-dwelling sites of Peschiera del Garda: : Belvedere and Frassino.

(60 minutes by car from Sirmione)

The prehistoric section preserves finds from the prehistoric settlement of Bande and boasts a rich collection of enigmatic tablets.

(1 hour and 20 minutes by car from Sirmione)

The archaeological section houses numerous finds dating back to the Middle Paleolithic and objects of great interest from the lake-dwelling site of Lake Ledro.

(1 hour and 40 minutes by car from Sirmione)

The museum exhibits part of the refined handicraft products of the pile-dwelling village of Molina di Ledro: one of the most important in the entire Alpine arc.

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