The Arene Candide Cave
34.400 years ago – VII century CE
A European Prehistoric “Sanctuary”
The Arene Candide Cave is a prehistoric site of international importance for it’s long human frequentation and for the discovery within the cave of the grave of “The Young Price”, a hunter from the Upper Palaeolithic that died when he was 15 due to a violent trauma to the face. He was therefore buried within the cave with all the honours of a chief and so accompanied by rich grave goods.
The long human frequentation is evidenced by a copious sequence of archaeological layers that start during the Upper Palaeolithic (dating from 34.400 years ago) when the cave was used as a shelter and as a burial ground for Palaeolithic hunters. The cave housed also graves of Neolithic shepherds and farmers that used the cave 7.800 years ago.
The history of the cave is unravelled at the Museo Archeologico del Finale (Archaeological Museum of Finale) where the reconstructions of the Palaeolithic necropolis and the burial of “The Young Prince” are exhibited along with many Neolithic tombs and the main artefacts discovered in the cave.
MORE INFORMATION – Arene Candide Cave
The Arene Candide Cave is situated on the Caprazoppa promontory. It’s name comes from a sand dune that had been formed by the wind against the rocky cliff but was then removed in the 20th century by quarry activities.
Furthermore, in the Palaeolithic during the last glaciation the sea level was 120 m lower than the current 89 m so the cave at the time was a lot more distant from the coast.
The cave is a prehistoric site of international importance due to the artefacts discovered within and the archaeological stratigraphy that testifies the human frequentation of the cave since the prehistoric period.
Numerous excavations have taken place, initially in the 1800s with Arthur Issel and other researchers and then from 1940 with the investigations carried out by Luigi Bernabò Brea and Santo Tinè up until recent investigations still underway today.
During these archaeological excavations the discovery of Roman and Byzantine ceramic artefacts in the upper layers has allowed us to attribute the function of the cave in this period to that of storage for food.
Under these layers and below the layers pertaining to the Copper, Iron and Bronze age (3600-181 BCE) there is a well-documented archaeological sequence of the prehistoric period; the cave was used during various Neolithic phases (5800-3600 BCE) as an animal shelter, settlement and burial area.
The Neolithic phase that is well-documented especially in the layers linked to the Square Mouthed Vases culture that is characterized by cist burials where the body was placed in a foetal position within tombs encased with stone slabs.
Deeper levels of the Neolithic present various traces of fire pits that testify a frequentation of the cave with the function of a shelter right from the more ancient phases of this period at the beginning of the 6th millennium BCE.
In the Neolithic layers there is an abundant number of terracotta objects as vases of different shapes and dimensions, loom weights for yarn making, female votive statuettes and pintaderas, particular decorative stamps. In addition to these, other manufacts were discovered such as stone blades (presumably used as sickles for harvesting crops), grindstones for the production of flour, greenstone axes for clearcutting and suckering activities along with obsidian tools, a volcanic glass of insular provenance that hints the probable origin of the Neolithic people that arrived at the cave from the sea around 5800 BCE
Other important prehistoric findings are the ones that are dated to the Palaeolithic and were discovered by Luigi Bernabò Brea, Viriginia Chiappella and Luigi Cardini in the 1940s: with the collaboration of the Istituto di Paleontologia Umana of Rome new excavation campaigns were conducted bringing to light the large epigravettian necropolis with at least 20 burials that were dated between 12000 and 10000 years ago.
The finding that maybe most of all contributed to increasing the Cave’s fame was the discovery of the burial of “The Young Prince”: a 15-year-old boy that died 28000 years ago due to facial trauma. The particular aspect of this burial is how refined and rich the burial goods are: mammoth tusk pendants, a long flint dagger, a cap made with tiny shells and four pierced objects, defined as a staffs of command made out of portions of elk antler.
The recent excavations that were carried out in the 2000s in the same area investigated the cave until the current level that is 9 meters deep and revealed an uninterrupted archaeological stratigraphy from 34000 BCE until the most recent periods of the Byzantine age.
HOW TO REACH
ARENE CANDIDE CAVE
How to reach the site
Starting from the railway crossing of Borgio Verezzi and follow the indication: proceding by foot up to Via Verezzi – Via della Cornice – Napoleonic road. Keep follow the indication. Total lenght 2 km, 30 minutes circa.
Full ticket 10,00 € per person.
Reduced ticket 5,00 € per persona (children under 10 years, over 65, IISL members, ICOM members, Touring Club Italiano members, university student with identity badge, visitors of Museo Archeologico del Finale with the entire ticket.
Visitors of the Cavern with full ticket benefit of the reduced ticket (3,00 €) at the Museo Archeologico del Finale.
Meeting point at the gate of the archaeological area at the inicated time. Maximun of 15 persons per visit admitted. RESERVATION IS MANDATORY
Drinking water, outdoor clothings and shoes are necessary.
Visits suspended in event of rain.
Calendar of guided visits on demand