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Distribution of the stele statues in Lunigiana

Lunigiana  is nowadays divided between Liguria and Toscana  ( it comprises the Massa Carrara province , and  part of the provinces of Lucca and La Spezia ) ; the name comes from that of Luni , the roman colony founded in 177 b.C. , a very important harbor , first military and then commercial .  The basin of the river Magra is the heart of this area that is surrounded by the sea , the Apuan Alps , the Apennines and the mountains that close the head of the Vara valley .
Here  80 stele statues have been discovered so far , both in valleys , on hills and also on mountain slopes up to 700 m. of  altitude . But the greatest number of these monuments come from the alluvial terraces of the river Magra and its tributaries , between 150 and 350 m on sea level . The northwestern coast , where the La Spezia stele statues were found at the depth of around 12 meters , and only one at  was discovered  at Lerici  , would seem to be rather barren . The Vara Valley too has yielded very little : only the Zignago stele statue .
An analysis of the distribution of the findings shows that there are a few recurring characteristics .  Some of the statues were grouped together ; for example at Pontevecchio – where nine stele statues were found , eight of which were , according to who discovered them , set upright on the ground in a small alignment at a short distance one from the other with the faces turned towards the west – at the Selva di Filetto – where 11 stele statues were found – at Malgrate where 6 stele statues were discovered . Small groups have been found at Minucciano , near Monti di Licciana , at Filattiera , Canossa , La Spezia . ( This has been observed in other parts of Europe too .)
Surely these areas must have had a particular importance , occurring near river fords , strategic camp sites or crossroads . The places chosen were on ridges , mountain passes , on very sunny spots , near streams or rivers : places that not only yielded primary resources for survival but were natural pathways for the travelling a sheep farming  and hunting economy  entailed and connected different areas .  Archeological research has shown that in the period in which these monuments were produced  contacts and commerce between north-western Tuscany and  Liguria and the north of the Pianura Padana were busy and passed through Lunigiana . On this axis , crossing over Monte Bardone , now known as the Cisa Pass , the “Lucca-Parma” ,the main roman roadway in this area was traced ,  to be followed by the medieval Via Francigena .
© 2015 Museo delle Statue Stele Lunigianesi
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