The first inhabitants of the Maritime Alps
If we say Prehistory in the Southern Alps, the 36,000 rock engravings of the Valle delle Meraviglie immediately come to mind. This site in the French Parc national du Mercantour, is where ancient visitors to the site sculpted figures of warriors, hunters, animals, weapons and sacred symbols on the rocks.
Both sides of the Maritime Alps have been frequented since the end of the last ice age, around 8,000 years ago, when the first nomadic hunter-gatherers started to climb the valleys, now free of ice.
These mountains pastures and streams were much appreciated by Neolithic shepherds, who ventured into the mountains to feed sheep and goats. In the lower Valle Stura, the presence of nomadic shepherds is attested by a settlement dating back to 4,600 BC. the settlement of the Caves of Aisone.
A more recent site, dating back to a period between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, is the Necropolis of Valdieri, a small monumental burial ground, probably destined to collect the remains of important people in the community, such as chiefs and priests. The grave goods, along with reconstructions and other information on the archaeological site are on display at the Museo della Resistenza e del Territorio di Valdieri . The exhibition by the Superintendence of Archeology and Fine Arts for the provinces of Alessandria, Asti and Cuneo also presents artefacts found in other locations of the Valle Gesso coming from Desertetto, Terme di Valdieri, Roaschia, Entracque and Roccavione. In Valdieri an archaeological area with the reconstruction of a Bronze Age hut and a furnace completes the visit of the Museum, for school groups and others to spend a "prehistoric" day.