The cave of Vecchiuzzo

NOTICE: Causes of cracking and infiltration are temporarily impossible to access the cave

The history of the researches
The discovery of the Cave of Vecchiuzzo occurred in June 1936 after two years of Antonio Collisani’s tireless research. Actually, the cave had been known for a long time, in fact it was mentioned in a publication of the early XX century. In the book “Historia Petralia Sottana”, Giuseppe Inguaggiato tells about the following popular legend. It is believed that there was a tunnel in the mountain called Roccabalata (which stands in front of the town) that went through it all and reached the opposite side of the mountain that is called “Lume secco”. The voices and the popular legends used to describe it as a place full of mysteries and charm. In addition, in the cave Antonio Collisani discovered the well-preserved footprints of one man with spiked shoes. This could be considered an evidence of the fact that at the time of World War I, the Cave of Vecchiuzzo was used by bandits and deserters as a refuge. Collisani was the first to think that he was in front of an important archaeological site. This strong belief pushed him to insist in his research. After he had been trying for two years, he finally brought to light the entrance of the cave. The dating of the cave is based on the ceramic findings that show that it is an archaeological site of the Copper Age. In June 1937, Mingazzini conduced the first archaeological campaign, during which more than half of the cave was excavated. In 1938 Jole Bovio Marconi undertook the second excavation campaign and she managed to free and investigate the innermost area of the cave. The history of the researches of the cave of Vecchiuzzo ended between 5th and 14th December 1966. The detailed exploration of the whole cave allowed scientists to confirm the information reported and definitively excluded the possibility of human intervention to regularize the surface of the deep natural cavity, which is smooth and flat in some places only because of the type of fracture of the gypsum rock.

The site
The gypsum fortress was used for mining activity until the 50s of the past century. It is supposed that this activity had changed the entrance of the cave that was originally very different. The cave has a complex morphology. The gallery is almost straight, it is about 80-100 m long and it is mostly 5 m wide . The cavity narrows after 2.30 m and become a corridor which widens after about ten meters.

The excavations
The bad condition of the cave and the devastation of the archaeological deposit raised the problem of an intervention to recovery as more stratigraphic information as was possible. The findings allowed to place the anthropological deposit from the Palaeolithic (quartzite and flint tools), passing to the late Neolithic, to the early Bronze Age. Most of the material is typologically a manifestation of the Copper Age. Unfortunately the deposit appeared mixed. During the excavations, from the trenches opened along the way of the cave, different kinds of clay finds appeared: “rough, brown-carved, painted in Serraferlicchio Petralia style, mixed without distinction of levels.” Among the most important findings there were:
– a possible working area recognised thanks to the concentration of waste products (including flint and obsidian cores and shards, a striker, bones and horns),
-a rudimentary paving made of different kinds of stones,
-a partition wall built to separate the inner part of the cave, which was probably dangerous because of landslides,
– a bronze pin, the unique metal finding, which was in the chalky grit,
– the remains of a probable burial, which were found inside a deep jar , to be related to the other bones that were in open order in this interior area.

During the second campaign, Bovio Marconi completed the exploration of the cave, penetrating into the tunnels that were partially covered by collapsed boulders. Here seven fireplaces and a probable furnace were discovered. They were dug in sedimentary clay deposit that covered the rocky soil of the cave.

Association Quota Mille
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Association Haliotis
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Italian Alpine Club (C.A.I.)
Section of Petralia Sottana
President Vincenzo Macaluso
Tel: 349.5864371