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The archeological site and the exhibition

Valdieri Necropolis

The Valdieri necropolis site (G. Bernardi/PNAM)

The necropolis is situated next to the old road to Valdieri, in a sunny, scenic, open amphitheatre, at the foot of Rocca San Giovanni and Punta Saben, which host the Nature Reserve of the same name.

Tall rock walls protect the plain from north winds and help to create a warm, dry climate, with low precipitation even in winter. This is probably the reason, apart from the excellent position overlooking the fork in the river Gesso, that it was chosen for the tombs of important members of the comunity, perhaps chiefs or priests.

The site excavation was carried out between 1984 and 2001 by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Piemonte, the result was the identification of crematory burial ground, used in the Late Bronze Age (1350-1200 BC) to its collapse (1200-900 BC) and then again in the Iron Age (625-475 BC).

Eleven crematorial burials and a cenotaph were found, (a cenotaph is an empty tomb, usually built to leave a symbolic place of rest to those who died far from home or without burial) and some ritual graves. Cinerary urns were placed in holes dug in the ground, with the bones and ashes of the deceased with accompanying objects. Over the centuries, the way of gathering remains and the funeral ritual underwent significant changes. There are two burials dating to the earliest use of the area, those of a child and an old woman, with a few simple objects: a bone needle and fragments of bronze, amongst which we can probably identify a torc, which may have been linked to the social standing of the deceased. The use of this little cemetery continued to the end of the Bronze Age, with an extension of the area dedicated to the necropolis; the ritual graves, containing fragments of vases and remains of burnt bones, show that there were rituals held here in memory of the deceased.

After an interruption of about three hundred years, in the Iron Age, a series of dry-stone walls were built demarcating the area occupied by the tombs, covered with a small mound of soil. In this period, the slab of stone which in earlier phases sealed the tomb is substituted by degradable material (wood, leather) and the objects were more precious, with bronze fibulae, bracelets (armillae) brooches and globular rings. The particular position of the burial ground, at the foot of the mountains sheltered from the weather, the extended time it was in use, the low number of burials, the presence of child burials and the characteristic composition of some of the objects lead us to suppose that the Valdieri necropolis hosted people with a particular role or standing in their comunity.

The surrounding walls are visible to the public, protected by a wooden shelter. An interpretive panel outlines the main features of the archeological site. The funereal objects, are on display at the Museo della Resistenza e del Territorio di Valdieri along with a reconstruction of the necropolis and much more information.

At the necropolis site in the summer 2013, a faithful reproduction of a bronze age building was built along with gardens, animal pens and an oven. This setting is particularly intended for schools programmes to allow visitors to relive experiences similar to those our ancestors had in 1200 BC. A schools workshop set up in the Park offices in Valdieri completes the integrated archeological experience. Here, activities connected to archeology, like making ceramics, cloth and jewelry using bronze or iron age techniques are on offer all year round.

For teachers

Discover schools activities at the Wolf enclosure for the school year 2015/2016.

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