Valdieri, the necropolis and museum
Archeology in the mountains
In the municipality of Valdieri, at the foot of the Rocca di San Giovanni, at an altitude of about 800 m,in the mid-1980s some archaeological finds came to light. The discovery was made during road widening work on the via delle Rive, the old road connecting Andonno and Valdieri. The Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Piedmont, began excavating an area of 6,000 square meters and continued throughout the 90s. This led to the discovery of a protohistoric necropolis (an ancient burial site). About nine hundred years separate the oldest burials dating back to the Bronze Age (1350-1200 BCE) from the last, datable to the Iron Age (about 625-475 BCE). The rather limited number of remains and the presence of child burials seem to indicate that this burial ground was intended for people who had played a special role within the community, perhaps related to the sphere of the sacred.
Overall, in the various research campaigns, twelve tombs were identified, including a cenotaph (i.e. a burial without a body, made to provide a home for the soul of the dead person left without a burial or to remember an individual missing or buried elsewhere) and three ritual structures.
At the northern end of the area under investigation, a circular pit containing a large stone embedded in a sub-vertical position also came to light, half of it emerging above the ancient ground level, interpreted by archaeologists as afuneral sign.
The first tombs and ritual graves date back to the Bronze Age, while a few centuries later it was the monumental structure built more or less in the same place that interfered with the oldest part of the necropolis.
The funerary complex, visible under the canopy that protects it, is organised in a central area probably rectangular in shape. Around it are quadrangular enclosures, bordered by low dry stone walls with burials under earthen tumulus.
All the tombs of the necropolis of Valdieri are from cremations: the oldest ones with the urn resting on a stone slab and containing the bones of the deceased and the items of equipment, inside wells dug in the ground. It was perhaps the abundance of wood suitable for the incineration rite that led to the choice of this place as a funerary area. So far no trace of the possible settlement of the "living" has been found.
Part of the necropolis no longer exists because it is clear that part of the land on which it stands slipped and was eroded during one of the floods of the Gesso river that flows a little further down the valley.
At the end of the research, it was decided to enhance the site: the Park acquired the site and with the collaboration of the Superintendence and the financial participation of the Municipality, Province and Mountain Community, built the protective cover of the grave walls and organised the site.
In summer 2013 the addition of a faithful reconstruction of a Bronze Age building was made, along with gardens, pens for livestock and a furnace, installations that through animation and specific educational programmes, aimed particularly at schools, allow visitors to relive moments and experiences similar to those of our ancestors of 1200 BCE.
The funerary objects, together with the reconstructions and other information on the archaeological site are on display at the Museum of the Resistance and the Territory of Valdieri, which is located not far from the site of the necropolis, in the Casa Lovera, one of Valdieri's historic buildings, which belonged to an ancient noble family.
Here you can see the finds brought to light by the excavations: the cinerary urns, some found almost intact, the bronze armillae of the "Crissolo"type, the rings with globes, pins and boat shaped fibulae from the Iron Age, and fragments of torques and a flattened and perforated bone needle related to the burials of the Bronze Age. The exhibition, curated by Soprintendenza archeologia Belle Arti e paesaggio per le provincie di Alessandria, Asti e Cuneo, also presents finds from other localities in Valle Gesso from Desertetto, Terme di Valdieri, Roaschia, Entracque and Roccavione.
Info visitTo visit the museum inquire in advance by calling the Municipality of Valdieri: 0171 97109.
Casa Lovera overlooks the main square of Valdieri, Piazza della Resistenza, from which continuing (directions) you reach the archaeological site, which given its favourable exposure is open all year round.