Munching a Prehistoric Snack in Italy!
Number 19 - December 1999
Situated at the site of one of the most famous and studied Bronze Age lake-settlements in the Italian Alps and representing an important exhibition and information centre for alpine prehistory is the Lake-dwelling Museum. Built in Molina di Ledro in 1972, the museum is part of the Natural Science Museum of Trento.
As part of the museum’s general improvement programme during 1994, the Natural Science Museum in Trento created a Prehistoric Botanical Garden based on the analysis of pollen and vegetable macro-remains found in the settlements at Molina di Ledro and in the nearby village of Fiavè.The purpose of the garden is to provide visitors with an opportunity to see the most important vegetable species for the inhabitants of the pile dwelling huts.Trees and shrubs that produce edible fruits, and are from the area, have been planted, and a plot has been sown with the most important species cultivated during the Bronze Age.The seeds (three sorts of grain and two of barley) were supplied by the Experimental Institute for Cereal Growing, a section of Sant’Angelo Lodigiano (Lodi). At the moment, cultivation of plots with plants that have colouring properties and were traditionally used by local people, and also in prehistoric times, are being established.
The Prehistoric Snack
Along with the creation of the Prehistoric Botanical Garden, the museum has also tried to link prehistory with the reality of today.This has led to the creation of an archeo-agricultural activity that recently involved several local classes from the Scuola Media (secondary school) at Bezzecca and has since been repeated with several other schools.
The purpose is to arouse the interest of the children, and transform their way of seeing prehistory, and the lake-dwelling inhabitants, from being the producers of broken pieces of pottery, to people who lived before us and worked, fought and loved like us.
There are three distinct phases to the activity which are obviously linked together:
This programme and series of activities has aroused great interest and participation from a large number of children and teachers.The fact that they have to make and later use their own prehistoric instruments leads students to acquire a new way of looking at history in general, and in particular, at the way of life of the ancient lake-dwelling inhabitants.The importance in prehistoric culture of manual labour, profound knowledge of the area, its resources and the capacity of making the best use of them, becomes immediately evident to the children.This implies a reappraisal and the modification of the image, typical in many students' minds, of a savage hunter dressed in hides and rags.
Moreover, during the activity students are able to discover the soft fruits and the edible berries found in the woods, and they learn to recognise the trees and the shrubs that produce them. Above all, it allows them to take possession again of the knowledge possessed by their ancestors, which is now almost forgotten and destined to disappear.
En Italia se Mordisquea un Aperitivo Prehistórico!
Cerca del Museo de las Viviendas del Lago, en Molina de Pedro, en Italia, se ha creado un Jardín Botánico prehistórico. Su principal propósito es dar a los visitantes una visión global de las especies vegetales más importantes en las vidas cotidianas de los antiguos moradores del lago.Junto con las construcción del Jardín Botánico Prehistórico, se ha desarrollado un programa arqueológico – agrícola. Este programa incluye una introducción de los moradores del lago y de su historia, seguida de la reconstrucción de varias armas prehistóricas y la creación de varias parcelas en las que se siembran las especies que cultivaban los habitantes del lago. La fase final del “aperitivo prehistórico” es pasar un día entero realizando algunas de las actividades mas importantes y necesarias en la vida diaria de los antiguos habitantes del lago. Se presta una atención particular al trabajo de la piedra de sílex, la cosecha del lino, la alfarería y el proceso y cocción de los cereales; y la prueba final, ¡comerse las pequeñas barras de pan!