So, although now all museums in Friuli are shut down because of Covid-19 restrictions, all palaentology's aficionados will still have time to come and visit such an extraordinary display of archeological finds and scientific researches. Patronised by Udine's Cultural Department, its Archeological Museum and by the Friulian Museum of Natural History, the exhibit retraces the multiple prints left by humans and animals in Friuli Venezia Giulia's many caves to tell the region's story starting from prehistoric times, by using a cross-curricular approach. The exhibition was created in the wake of ESOF 2020, the Euroscience Open Forum which chose Trieste for the “Science in the City Festival” in 2020.
Life in the Natisone Valleys... 13,000 years ago
Archeological and speleological researches, which have been going on for over a century in Friuli, are shown along with their accomplishments through videos, archeological finds, documents and reenactments. Most of the infos detailed in the exhibit date back to the III millennium b.C., and are the results of discoveries and findings that began in the late 19th century thanks to great Friulian naturalists such as Achille Tellini, Giovanni Battista De Gasperi, Egidio Feruglio, Francesco Musoni, Ardito Desio, all members of Circolo Speleologico Idrologico Friulano – the Friulian Speleological Hydrogeological Society. Many of these explorers went searching in the Julian Pre-Alps and they found many caves, especially along the Natisone Valleys where the renowned Riparo di Biarzo is located: on the left bank of creek Natisone, this place was used as a shelter since prehistoric times. From this archeological site come many of the artefacts on show: flint tools, bone-made objects, pierced shells and animal remains that underwent diagnostic exams in order to understand the way of life of hunters-gatherers who started hanging around these valleys as long as 13,000 years ago.
According to the exhibition curators, human presence in these caves might be linked to the population living on the valley floor: their use was maybe due to different needs, for example to put animals under a shed during a long break, or the need to rest while hunting, hay-harvesting, searching for raw materials nearby, or even because of new funerary rituals.
Exploring caves, a long tradition in Friuli
By the end of the 19th century, in Friuli the interest for caves and the Karst's sinkholes grew stronger, also thanks to the studies then already underway for a few decades in the original Karst area near Trieste (which was under the Austro-Hungarian rule). Since then, in over 150 years in the Oriental Pre-Alps more than 800 caves have been explored and registered into the official cavern real estate registry office. From the river Torre's Valleys to the Natisone Valleys and the river Judrio's ones, researchers discovered multiple kinds of caves, some of them being just simple shelters, while others are part of complex subterranean systems extending underground for kilometres.
The traces and remains found in such peculiar locations are shown in the exhibit from different points of view: the historical approach which led to their identification and to the development of prehistoric archaeology in Friuli, and the technological approach that helped unexpected data come to light from apparently simple objects, thus giving us an accurate glimpse into their ancient context.
“Antichi abitatori delle grotte in Friuli”
Castle of Udine – Up to February 27th 2022
Wednesday and Thursday: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Booking: tel. +39 0432 1272591
Audioguide: on Udine's Museums App you'll find podcasts that will guide you through the visit directly on your smartphone
COVID 19 UPDATES: museums are currently shut due to restrictions. When open, a fixed quota of visitors can enter every 30 minutes in order to guarantee safety.