BALZI ROSSI

Ventimiglia (IM) - Liguria

The important complex of Balzi Rossi (or Grotte di Grimaldi), under investigation since the mid-nineteenth century, includes some fifteen caves. The most significant are Grotta Costantini, Grotta dei Fanciulli, Grotta Florestano, Riparo Mochi, Grotta del Caviglione, Barma Grande, Grotta del Principe, Grotticella Blanc-Cardini.
The Balzi Rossi complex is important on the matter of historical reconstruction of some Palaeolithic phases, of significant burials, and also of rock art (see Grotta del Caviglione, Grotticella Blanc-Cardini, Grotta Florestano) and portable art (Barma Grande, Grotta del Principe).

Fifteen statuettes (13 also known as “Grimaldi Venuses”) sourced from Balzi Rossi are probably related to two caves: Barma Grande and Grotta del Principe. They were recovered between 1883 and 1895 by Louis A. Jullien, researcher and antiquities dealer. Seven were delivered to the Museum of National Antiquities in Paris, one was sold in 1944 to the Peabody Museum, while the others turned up in an antique shop in Montreal, Canada, and later were purchased by Pierre Bolduc, a private collector who was responsible for the scientific recovery.

Historical framework
Upper Paleolithic

Coinciding with the arrival of the species Homo sapiens in Europe was the most recent phase of the Paleolithic (between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago). Here, we see a break with the previous cultural traditions of the Neanderthals, and the beginning of a series of utilitarian and symbolic practices which developed in the millennia leading up to the arrival of the Neolithic. The presence of strategically located settlements, subsistence practices based on hunting and gathering, the modality of funerary rites and the beginning of the figurative art allow us to follow the transformation of the earliest sapiens cultures.

Cultures

Gravettian

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