History of research

The archaeological site was first reported in 1884 by Stefano De Stefani. The area was locally known as I Osi or Sengio Merler or Stazione della Neve and subsequently Riparo Solinas. The cave owes its importance mainly to two archaeological interventions.

The first was carried out in 1964 by the Natural History Museum of Verona, advocated by Giovanni Solinas who had discovered and reported the exposure of a stratigraphic section with bones and flint during the widening of the old road to Molina. On that occasion, Prof. Angelo Pasa and Franco Mezzena regularized the section, cutting it back by a meter. The premature death of Prof. Pasa decreed the abandonment of the site with serious damage to the oldest archaeological layers, due to looting by illegal diggers, undaunted by the protective barrier built by the Superintendence.

After the damaged deposits had been cleared up in 1982 by the Museum of Verona, the second archaeological intervention began, promoted in 1988 by the Archaeological Superintendence of Veneto and coordinated by the University of Ferrara and Milan I, respectively under the responsibility of Profs. Alberto Broglio and Mauro Cremaschi. Since then scientific research has been carried out regularly in agreement with the Superintendence, the Mountain Community of Lessinia, the Regional Natural Park of Lessinia, the Municipality of Fumane and, for some years, with the Municipality of St. Anna d’Alfaedo.

To the archaeologists’ great surprise they discovered a set of cavities filled in by the debris of a landslide. The fill was gradually removed after 1995, revealing the remains of settlements of Neanderthals and Anatomically Modern Man in excellent condition.

The first phase of these investigations therefore revealed a site of considerable importance which requires complex studies and collaboration between researchers and specialists from different fields able to build the framework for relations between man, the environment and its resources. For this reason an international research group coordinated by the two universities studies the sediments and their formation processes, the charred plant remains, the skeletal remains of humans and of vertebrates and their processes of fossilization, the lithic and hard animal material industries and their functional significance, the ornamental objects and works of art.

The dating of the deposits is carried out by various laboratories in Italy (Milan and Lecce) and in European research centres (Paris, Oxford, Utrecht).