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archaeological sites

Etruscan settlement of Piari


typology: Settlement
Area: Garfagnana
District/Locality: Vagli di Sotto

The archaeological site of Piari, found in 1984 during a periodic drainage of the Vagli artificial basin, underwent an emergency excavation in the summer of 1985; the area, from which earth had already been removed, was, indeed, meant to contain the waters of the lake.
The settlement explored is on the left bank of the Edron stream (550 m. a.s.l.), at the foot of the Apuan Alps and, although of reduced dimensions, represents, for the time being, the most noteworthy and, perhaps, the only evidence of Etruscan presence in Garfagnana between the VIIth and VIth century B.C.. The upper course of the Serchio is, indeed, with very few exceptions, devoid of settlements until the arrival of the Apuan Ligurians, at the end of the IVth century B.C. (Monte Pisone; Colle delle Carbonaie). The site of Piari was again occupied, this time by Ligurians, in the Hellenistic Age, after a period of abandon.
(text by Susanna Bianchini)
State of preservation

Remains not visible
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The main dwelling was a cottage divided into two rooms, one of which probably served as a vestibule; the floor was carved into the rock, as were the holes accommodating supporting wooden structures. The covering was probably made of cloth or skins, anchored to the ground by pegs. Near the cottage there were also some small facilities, perhaps just tents with a pole in the middle to support them.
Outside, three hearths, a chamber used as stove and two large holes, filled with pieces of charcoal and obviously used for storing burning material, have been identified.
The pottery finds consist of impasto earthenware only, in part locally produced: ollae of different sizes, covers and containers for foodstuffs.
On the whole, the settlement has the appearance of a 'camp', equipped with those facilities (hearths, stocks of wood and stove) necessary in order to survive for some time in a mountain environment.
Probably the Etruscans that settled at Piari came from Versilia, where, at this time (end of VIIth - VIth century B.C.), they were already well established (S. Rocchino; Via del Poggione; Baraglino; Casa Baldi; Acquarella). Maybe a group of scouts, spurred by the search for new natural resources to exploit, reached the Vagli basin across the Tambura pass. The Etruscans penetrated into the upper and middle Serchio valley only in a later period (Ponte a Moriano; Buca di Castelvenere), when the settlement of Piari had already been long abandoned; in particular, in the upper valley, some very small settlements were placed along the main cross-Apennine routes.
In the IIIrd century B.C. a Ligurian settlement, of which only a terrace wall, founded on natural debris covering the remains of the Etruscan settlement, once again occupied the site of Piari.bibliography:
- Ciampoltrini G., Notini P., Un insediamento etrusco nell'Alta Valle del Serchio, in Studi Etruschi 53, 1987
- Ciampoltrini G., Ricerche sugli insediamenti liguri dell'Alta Valle del Serchio, "Bollettino di Archeologia" 19-20-21, 1993
Bibliography

- Ciampoltrini G., Notini P., Un insediamento etrusco nell'Alta Valle del Serchio, in Studi Etruschi 53, 1987
- Ciampoltrini G., Ricerche sugli insediamenti liguri dell'Alta Valle del Serchio, "Bollettino di Archeologia" 19-20-21, 1993

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