1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Villanova

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VILLANOVA, the name given to an ancient cemetery in the neighbourhood of Bologna, Italy, and generally applied by archaeologists to all the remains of that period, and to the period itself, owing to the discovery therein of a large number of the characteristic remains of the earliest Iron Age of Italy. The antiquities of this culture are widely spread over upper Italy and differ essentially from those of the previous epoch known as Terramara, and they have been described by some as following at a considerable interval, for they show a great advance in metal work. The chief cemeteries of the Villanova period are at Bologna, Este, Villanova, Golasecca, Trezzo, Rivoli and Oppiano. As there can be no doubt that the Terramara culture was that of the aboriginal Ligurians (see, however, Terramara), so the Villanova is that of the Umbrians, who, according to the historians, were masters of all northern Italy, as far as the Alps at the time of the Etruscan conquest (c. 1000 B.C.). They contain cist-graves, the bottoms, sides and tops being formed of flat unhewn stones, though sometimes there are only bottom and top slabs: the dead were burnt, and the remains are usually in urns, each grave containing as a rule but one ossuary; sometimes the vessel is covered with a flat stone or a dish inverted, sometimes the urns are deposited in the ground without any protection. The vases are often hand-made and adorned with incised linear ornament, though in later times the bones were often placed in bronze urns or buckets. Though iron is steadily making its way into use, flat, flanged, and socketed and looped celts of bronze are found in considerable numbers. Brooches of many kinds, ranging from the most primitive safety-pin fashioned out of a common bronze pin (such as those found in the Bronze Age settlement at Peschiera on Lake Maggiore), through many varieties, are in universal use. Representations of the human figure are practically unknown, but models of animals of a rude and primitive kind are very common, probably being votive offerings. These are closely parallel to the bronze figures found at Olympia, where human figures were likewise rare. All these objects are decorated in repoussf with geometric designs. The culture of the Villanova period is part of the Hallstatt civilization, though the contents of the Hallstatt (q.v.) graves differ in several marked features from the antiquities of the ordinary Villanova period, there is no breach of continuity between Hallstatt and Villanova, for the types of Vadena, Este, Golasecca and Villanova are found in the Hallstatt culture. The connexion between the north and the south of the Alps is never interrupted. The chief difference lies in the fact that the Celts of the Danubian region made greater advances in the development of weapons and defensive armour than their kindred in northern Italy. The Po and Danube regions alike are characterized by bronze buckets, cists, girdles and the like, wrought in repoussé with animal and geometric designs; but the introduction of iron into Italy is considerably posterior to its development in the Hallstatt area.

See Montelius, La Civilisation primitive en Italie; Ridgeway, Early Age of Greece, vol. i.; Brizio, in C. R. Acad. Inscr. (1906), 315 sqq.; Grenier, in Mélanges de l'école française (1907), 325 sqq.; Pigorini and Vaglieri have contributed articles to the Rendiconti del Lincei and the Notizie degli scavi from 1907 onwards.

(W. Ri.)