Little idol of Galassina – Castelvetro (MO)

The card was edited by Valentina Mauriello

Little idol of Galassina – Castelvetro (MO)

The card was edited by Valentina Mauriello

It is a pebble of fine-grained gray sandstone shaped by the fluvial flow into an oblong shape with rounded ends (phallic shape), with a slightly arched longitudinal axis and an ellipsoidal cross-section. The head separated from the trunk by an incised furrow is decorated with incisions that seem to represent a head of hair surrounded by a cord at the top; the face is broad and flattened, the body in front is covered by a plot of oblique lines; three cup marks, located at the vertices of an ideal inverted triangle, indicate the breasts and the sex; from the shoulder, rendered with an engraved triangle, the arms descend at the end of which a regular rectangle divided by two parallel lines represents the hand and the five fingers. On the back, the herringbone design seems to repeat the motif on the front, albeit with a different form.

Historical notes

During a break-in carried out for the planting of a vineyard near Castelvetro in the province of Modena, materials belonging to various periods were collected: Paleolithic, Eneolithic, Bronze Age, Villanovan age. In particular, the pebble was found, together with other materials from the Etruscan necropolis of Galassina, during the excavations that took place in 1879.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Little idol of Galassina – Castelvetro (MO)


Female figurine


Benedetto Benedetti attributes this find to the Eneolithic (end of the Neolithic, beginning of the Copper Age). The chronological attribution made by Benedetti is based on stylistic considerations.
The find, made up of local stone, was covered by a calcareous crust which almost completely hid the incisions. A part of this was analyzed under the microscope by Professor Mario Bertolani at the Institute of Petrography of the University of Modena who confirmed its antiquity with certainty. He also found green spots on the encrustation attributable to alterations due to copper or bronze. The treatments undergone by the find over time leave little room for new archaeometric analyses.
The position of the Superintendence and the Civic Museum is perplexed with respect to the dating following analyzes commissioned from archaeologists specialized in traces of use which highlighted how the engravings on the pebble were made with metal objects and the patina that is normally created in the case of antiques.

Location of discovery

The Galassina site is located on the left bank of the Guerro torrent, in the immediate vicinity of the torrent, and occupies a slope which slopes down to the east towards the river, and to the south towards the current center of Castelvetro - Province of Modena. Donato Labate has hypothesized that the find came from the area of ​​the nearby terramaricolo settlement of Monte Barello where during the 2006th century there was an active quarry of fertilizing soil which was spread over the nearby fields. The hypothesis is based on the concomitant presence among the materials from the excavation of the Etruscan necropolis of Galassina of finds referable to the Bronze Age and the Middle Ages both attested to Monte Barello. These finds could have been transported to the Galassina farm together with the fertilizing soil (Labate 33, p.XNUMX). At Monte Barello there are also attestations from the Neolithic period that can potentially be connected with the idol in question.


Emilia Romagna

Environmental context


exhibits exhibited

The find is kept in the archive of the Civic Ethnological Museum of Modena. It's not exposed. The position of the Superintendency and of the Civic Museum is one of doubts about the authenticity - in terms of dating of the find.

State of conservation

The published photos show the find in excellent condition

Legal condition

Property of the Civic Ethnological Museum of Modena


  1. Chiara Pizzirani – “The Etruscan burial ground of Galassina di Castelvetro (MO). Preliminary analysis of topographic data and tomb contexts” – in Pre-Roman archeology in Western Emilia – Acme notebooks – 108 – 2009 – pp. 165-179;
  2. Andrea Cardarelli and Luigi Malnati (edited by) – Atlante dei Beni Archeologici della Provincia di Modena – Vol III – Insignia of the Lily – 2003;
  3. Donato Labate – Castelvetro. Archeology and topographic research – Insignia of the Lily – 2006.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email