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The History

Discover the origin of the ‘Aquae Patavinae’ and the history of the Euganean thermal area...

 

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Prehistory and Proto-history

Stone Age (Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic)

Quite a few places of the west Euganean zone have given us back several flint tools dating from the Middle Mousterian Palaeolithic, namely manufactured by Neanderthal man; some of these findings attest how the most ancient and known marks of human presence in the Hills refer to a period between 130.000 and 110.000 years ago . The hunters/gatherers of the Upper Palaeolithic (when the anthropologically modern man took the place of the Neanderthal, less than 40.000 years ago) and of the Mesolithic (started at the end of Ice Age, more or less 10.000 years ago) mainly settled in the west area of Euganean territory. These presences, probably connected to the course of an ancient branch of the Brenta-Bacchiglione river, were attested in a region located among the west Euganean Hills, the east Berici Hills and the in-between narrow plain.

View of the area of Galzignano, reconstruction drawing and finds dating back to Stone Age

During the 6th millennium B.C., the steady spreading in northern Italy of an economy based on farming and cattle-breeding – and not on the mere hunting and gathering of wild species any longer – made the settling in Euganean Hills more intensive and articulated. If Early Neolithic, as the previous phases, is only attested on the plain located near the west slopes of the Hills, during the Middle and Late Neolithic (5th millennium – second half of the 4th millennium B.C.) the first settlements of a certain relevance appeared in the thermal area as well, in particular in the territory of Galzignano.


Copper Age

Punta di freccia in selce dall'area archeologica di via Neroniana

The Copper Age or Aeneolithic (3.300-2.300 B.C.) is characterized by the appearance of the first metal tools. Nevertheless, only faint traces of this period can be found in the Hills: just a few tools and some flint weapons, as ones in the archeological area at via Neroniana or result of occasional recovery, have been discovered in the east Euganean zone.


Bronze Age

The Bronze Age (approximately 2.300-1.000 B.C.) is generally considered the period during which, to coincide with a substantial population increase, took place the first urbanization processes, started with a steadily more widespread land occupation.

Laghetto della Costa di Arquà Petrarca

As for Early Bronze Age (2.300-1.700 B.C.), the Euganean area attests one of the most important settlements of north Italy: the stilt house of the Laghetto della Costa, in Arquà Petrarca. As a matter of fact, Early Bronze Age (link a foto vasi) is characterized by the presence of few villages, mainly built on the shores of little lakes, and commonly known as “palafittes”; this name comes from the employed building technique, based on a wide use of wood (piles, frames, reclamation casting) – necessary to raise the village from the lakes or the marshland on which it is built, as in the case of Arquà Petrarca. On the other hand, the Middle and Late Bronze Age (1.700-1.200 B.C.) are marked by a real population explosion, proven by the contemporaneous rising of numerous settlements – very close one another as well. In the Euganean region, villages were mainly built in the area where hills met the plain beneath, preferably low isolated hills such as Monte Castello or Monte Rosso. In the context of an economy based on farming and animal raising, this choice allowed to exploit the hills and their slopes for agricultural purposes, while the damp surrounding plain was suitable for pasture cattle-breeding and hay production.

Panoramica del Monte Rosso e reperti dell’età del Bronzo dall’area termale euganea

During Late Bronze Age (1.200-1.000 B.C.), the widespread presence of little villages gave ground to the birth of the first big settlements, generally located along the course of rivers; their economy started to be based not only on agriculture and breeding, but also on trade and handicraft production. The inhabitants of Euganean Hills were also concerned in this change of course: while a strong demographic reduction in the number and dimension of the sites could be noticed within the thermal area, the Adige river and the south Euganean slopes witnessed the rising of Este and Montagnana, first trials in the region of the winning model of the 1st millennium B.C.: the city.