|15 August 2003
Prehistoric statue discovered in Italy
Workers fixing the sewers of a small Tuscan village have discovered a mysterious statue which may lead to a large Iron Age warrior cemetery. A little over 2 feet tall, the prehistoric statue was found in Filattiera, a village in the magical stone land of Lunigiana, the wild and remote northwestern corner of Tuscany that borders Liguria (Italy).
"The sculpted slab has been re-used to create a 'cassetta' tomb, a typical burial of the ancient Ligurian people in which stone slabs were used to make a sort of coffin. So far we have identified three tombs, containing fragments of pottery. We are very excited as further excavation will begin shortly," said archaeologist Rita Lanza. Broken, neckless, with arms carved in bas-relief, the stelae has been dated to 2,000 BCE by the shape of the dagger it holds in one hand.
Similar to Menhirs — mysterious, ancient single standing stones found throughout Europe — the statue stelae dotted the Lunigiana landscape until Christianity took over and destroyed them. Thought to be symbols of pagan idols, today their meaning is still debated. Some experts believe they were funerary monuments; others think they represented the chiefs of a tribe. Consisting of sandstone slabs with an inscribed or sculpted human body, the stelae from Lunigiana are unlike any other found in Alto Adige, Corsica, Southern France and Spain — they are inscribed on the front side and serve as sort of thin, two-dimensional monuments.
Faceless, another unusual feature according to Lanza, the newly discovered statue was found less than 700 feet from the Pieve of Sorano, an ancient church where Lunigiana's most important stelae — an intact stone warrior — was discovered.
"It's an important discovery as it indicates the presence of a new Iron Age necropolis, probably the burial place of warriors. But most of all, this stelae shows that these statues were re-used in making tombs some 2,500 years after they were first created. This was totally unknown and opens up a new scenario," said archaeologist Emanuela Parbeni, an expert of Iron Age findings in Lunigiana.
Source: Discovery Channel News (8 August 2003)
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