The finding locations
From the very first discovery stele statues aroused great interest and curiosity . The very first stele statue in Lunigiana was found at Zignago ( in La Spezia province ) in 1827 , and there was much debate about the inscription in Etruscan letters and its dating to this period ; the stele statues discovered at La Spezia in 1886 in the military arsenal triggered off quite a debate on their function and meaning . The many discoveries during the twentieth century have always been by chance and devoid of any record of their original place ( that is the original context in which the stele statues were ) . There are exceptions : the stele statue Minucciano III ( fig.6 ) , found during a stratigraphic excavation in 1968 and the stele statue Venelia II , the discovery of which in 1984 was followed by an archeological excavation that has yielded findings about the use of the site in prehistoric times and has allowed to review the results of the Minucciano excavation .
One can easily believe that the existence of these very ancient objects has never really been ignored in Lunigiana . Sometimes this awareness was mixed with a feeling of superstitious mystery that somehow filters through into ancient popular beliefs . In other instances , the finding of these already rounded or smoothed stones could be considered very useful : and so in many cases the stele statues discovered over the centuries have been re-used as building materials for houses or religious buildings ; this is the case of the stele statues Malgrate I , Filetto XI , Aulla , that had been used to build walls in farmhouses and the Arcola statue , embedded in a breast wall ; Malgrate III used as a shelf , Falcinello walled up as a lintel over a window in the old curtain walls of Falcinello and Codiponte used as a door -post in a portal in the medieval village of the same name ; Malgrate IV and Malgrate V re-used to build a fountain and Reusa as a pinnacle in an arch ; Gigliana used as a memorial tablet in the village church .
Many group B stele statues have been found in fragments , broken or intentionally mutilated of head and breasts . This could be considered as evidence of early iconoclasm . Iconoclasm consists in the intentional destruction of those monuments that , in a particular culture and time , are considered as embodying ideological ,symbolic , religious assertions that are unacceptable or even condemnable .
The first evidence of this intentional destruction of stele statues dates back to the Iron Age when , it would seem , at the emerging of a new dominant elite in a time of great cultural and social change , the civil value ( representations of important personages ) or religious value ( representations of divinities ) of the main monuments celebrating the ousted dominating social group had to be destroyed . This would explain the fact that all the intentionally damaged stele statues belong to group B . Other examples of iconoclasm involving stele statues date to the christian era , during the first half of the Middle Ages . This is the case of the Sorano I-II-III stele statues , discovered in fragments in the foundations of the church of Saint Stefano Sorano at Filattiera . In the Church of Saint George , at Filattiera there is an inscribed tablet dedicated to Leodgar , an important man of longboard descent who lived in the VIII cen. , that states : “ gentillium varia hic idola fregit “ , that is he broke the ancient heathen idols , some of which were probably stele statues . Obviously in a hilly and culturally conservative land such as Lunigiana the stele statues had continued to have – in popular tradition – a strong bond to extremely ancient heathen and idolatrous beliefs , and the church battled strenuously against these un-orthodox religious tendencies .