Development of the settlement
Favourable environmental characteristics have turned the Lower Cecina Valley territory into an ideal place for the development of the human settlement as early as the Middle Palaeolithic period, as attested by the several traces of frequentation and the evidence of settlement, burial and cultural types identified in this district.
Historical-archaeological studies of the Montescudaio area reveal how it is part of a geographically and culturally homogenous district that runs along the course of the Cecina river: Etruscan tombs and settlements from the Orientalising and Archaic period have been identified on the slopes along the water course, the result of the expansion process initiated between the VIII and VII centuries BC by noble groups heading from Volterra, who started their thrust into the valley to exploit its resources, giving rise to new settlements.
Etruscan burial sites from the territory
In addition to the burial sites of Villanovan Age (IX - end of VIII century BC) discovered in the localities of Belora, Casaglia and Bibbona, the numerous beehive (tholos) tombs found isolated in Casale Marittimo, Casaglia, La Ghinchia and Bibbona date from the Archaic Etruscan period (VI century BC). They are connected to the presence of principes, leading exponents of the aristocracies of the time.
Even the famous cinerary urn of Montescudaio (around 670 BC), discovered in the early twentieth century in an unidentified area, probably close to the current city centre, seems to be a manifestation of these aristocracies. Kept at the Archaeological Museum of Florence, the burial urn is considered a unique piece in the context of local productions from the period, due in particular to the unusual plastic decoration with a banquet scene depicted on the lid.
Sites and finds
As testimony to the continuity of settlement in the plains and hillsides of this territory, the site of Casalgiustri is of particular interest: here the excavations have identified bottoms of huts dating from the late Orientalising period (end of VII – VI century BC), rich in materials, including bucchero vases, tombs of the Archaic Age (VI-V century BC) and then a workshop with kilns for firing pottery belonging to the Hellenistic Age (IV- III century BC ).
Likewise Hellenistic, a box urn in terracotta, its lid decorated with a semi-reclining female figure, comes from the San Giovanni area: although the product of a modest local manufacture, it resembles the Volterra urns of the same period, attesting the contacts and cultural influence of the Etruscan city on this territory.
Full list of showcases of the Archaeology and History Documentation Centre of Montescudaio (CeDiAS).
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