The following two sections of the archaeological museum are open: “La prima pietra” (The first stone), dedicated to the most ancient prehistoric periods (100.000 years ago – half of the 4th millennium IV millennio B.C.), and “Dal fuoco il metallo” (From fire, metal), the life of the settlements knowing metallurgy (3400-900 B.C.).
The itinerary, going along the subterraneans of the Visconti Citadel, is characterized by rich explanation panels about the exhibition that complete the information supplied by the exhibits.
The first section introduces the general problems of the pre-historic research; a plastic model shows the distribution of population in the province of Piacenza from the first man up to the Roman period, started in 218B.C. with the foundation of Placentia.
The window-cases display exhibits belonging to the lower, middle and upper Paleolithic, found above all in the areas at the feet of the hills; there are interesting jasper artifacts coming from Monte Lama, from the middle Paleolithic to the Copper Age. It is possible to confirm the transition from a hunting/harvesting economy to the productive economy of the first settlements, represented by the mesolithic sites where microlithic remains have been found.
Thanks to the advent of pottery, the Neolithic settlements in Trebbia Valley are very remarkable: Casa Gazza, Groppo di Vaccarezza and S. Andrea di Travo. Namely, the pottery discovered at Casa Gazza is one of the most meaningful examples of ancient Neolithic in Northern Italy.
The exhibition ends with the display of Bernardo Pallastrelli’s Collection; Pallastrelli was the first researcher to show interest towards the pre-roman period, and he promoted the creation of a museum collecting the most ancient memories of our territory.
The second section displays the few remains dating back to the Copper Age Rame and two wonderful knives dating back to the ancient Bronze Age, which were found on the bank of the river Po, near Castelsangiovanni.
Most of the exhibition is dedicated to the middle and recent Bronze Age, characterized by the “terramare” in most of the Padana Valley. “Terramare” were typical villages built on pile dwellings in a dry context. The museum displays remains from the pile dwellings discovered in the 19th century by Luigi Scotti in Rovere di Caorso, Colombare di Bersano, Castelnuovo Fogliani and Montata dell’Orto. The exhibition is completed by sections dedicated to craft activities, prestigious and religious objects typical of these communities.
The most meaningful ones are five bronze swords which were thrown into the river Po as offer to the gods.
Further discoveries, dating back to the same period but culturally different, belong to the Apennines area: the most remarkable rermains are those from are Groppo di Vaccarezza, where an interesting vessels group, dating back to the final Bronze period, was also found.
The turret, in an isolated position, is dedicated to the display of the Etruscan liver, the most famous and prestigious exhibit of the palace collections. This ovine bronze liver, found in 1877 in Ciavernasco di Settima, near Gossolengo (PC), is a rare and direct witness of the etruscan religious rituals. It dates back to the end of the 2nd – beginnings of the 1st century before Christ, while researchers are not so sure about its use, although it’s obviously connected to divination by fore-seers, who used to analyze the organ of the sacrificed victim. The extraordinary importance of this object lies in the inscriptions of gods’ names, that are written on the flat side of the liver so as to imitate the sky organization according to the Etruscans.