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Golasecca Civilization


This term is used to describe a particular proto-historical culture which arose in the Canton Ticino, Grisons and north-western area of the Italian peninsula between the Alps and the River Po, especially around the lakes of Verbania and Como, between the 9th and 4th centuries B.C. during the first Iron Age. The area around the point where the Ticino flows out of the lake features steep gravelly gullies and waterfalls which explain the place name “Golasecca” or dry gully. Protected by a ring of morenic hills it was dotted with villages big and small with landing stages for boat traffic and checkpoints at the points where goods were traded coming from the Mediterranean-Etruscan area headed for the Transalpine markets. Significant finds in the burial sites have made it possible to confirm that these inhabitants originated in incursions by Celtic tribes. The cremated remains of the dead were placed in graves often protected by elaborate stone structures. A study of numerous finds which have been systematically documented testifies that trade was more important than farming in the Golasecca culture, that the grape vine was already being cultivated, that crafts thrived and they had already developed the arts of spinning and weaving. They lived in huts of modest dimensions made from a framework of tree-trunks and walls made of mud and straw covered with branches woven together with twigs. Recent archaeological finds of inscriptions on stone and funerary pottery have shown that the alphabet was already known in the 7th century B.C. and trace it to a Lepontic language connected with Etruscan. The appearance in the 5th century of the centre of Milan, founded by Insubrians and located in a strategic position for various trade routes led to the decline of the Golasecca settlements on the banks of the Ticino.