The Archaeological Park and Open-air Museum of Terramara di Montale is one of the few “open-air archaeological museums” in Italy. This type of museum, through reconstructions of past environments and activities, can communicate to a wide audience through a strongly evocative approach. The Montale excavations were made accessible in a museum space compatible with the natural and historical landscape.
In the open-air museum a part of the Terramara village dating to 1650-1200 BC – which emerged from excavations at Montale and deduced to its forms due to subsequent studies - has been rebuilt to its full size. A portion of the fortifications consisting of the moat and the embankment have been rebuilt inside the village. The two structures give a clear idea of the powerful artificial defences that surrounded the Terramara di Montale. Two houses of the Bronze Age have been faithfully reconstructed containing furnishings and objects reproduced on the basis of originals found in the excavations of Montale or in any case from examples from other Terramara and from archaeological contexts of the same period. The exhibition has been characterised by references to domestic and artisan activities (metallurgy, weaving, ceramics, processing of deer horn) and personalised around social figures (warrior, artisan, female figures of rank). In the vicinity of the houses two kilns were built for firing ceramics, used for the creation of medium and large pottery. The abundant discoveries of botanical finds have provided useful information to reconstruct the appearance of the territory of Montale in the centuries at the turn of the second millennium BC. In the outdoor museum sector, experimental crops have been planted of some of the plants documented by archaeological excavations: cereals (rye and millet), legumes (field beans, lentils, grass peas, peas) and flax.
What is a Terramara?
The Terramara, to which the museum of Montale is dedicated, is a type of fortified prehistoric village dating between the middle and recent Bronze Age (about 1650 - 1170 BC), surrounded by an embankment and a moat. The size of these inhabited areas varied: from 1-2 hectares in the most ancient phases up to 20 hectares in the most advanced phases. The houses, arranged inside the village according to an orthogonal form, were frequently built on aerial decks like stilt houses, although unlike these, they were not in lake or river areas. The villages were very frequent and the whole area including the Emilian plain and the lowland areas of the provinces of Cremona, Mantua and Verona were densely inhabited. The total number of inhabitants was very high for that time, possibly being anywhere between 150,000 and 200,000.