Italy has an abundance of ancient artifacts, but many visitors fail to realize that the caves on the northwest coast of Sicily offer history much older than fallen temples and ruins of the mainland. In these caves, ancient drawings from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods are on display, and many consider these artifacts to be just as interesting as more popular tourist destinations both on the island and on the nearby mainland. When you’re in Sicily, be sure to take a few hours to tour some of man’s earliest art.
Cala del Genovese Cave
In the Cala del Genovese cave, ancient hunters and gatherers drew figures of various animals from their time. Thirty-two finely drawn pictures are identifiable, and the care of strokes is the pictures in clearly evident. The drawings of Cala del Genovese are the only ancient drawings in Sicily that can be accurately dated. These date back to 9230 B.C.
In addition to these drawings, another important series of symbols has been drawn onto the rock face. Neolithic man, from a period later than the drawn animals, drew a large series of black symbols. Many of these symbols were of men, but the naturalism of the drawings is not as strong as pictures from earlier periods. There is little action in the pictures, but rather just an impression of something meaningful long ago.
Many consider the artwork in Addaura cave to be the finest on Sicily. The subject of these ancient carvings is humans, but the detail in which they are drawn is astounding. The figures are outlined either in profile or at three-quarters and some drawings even depict movement. A few of the drawings are more than the outline of man. These special drawings contain the same shape, but with the added embellishment of a headdress depicting someone of great importance within the ancient community.
Niscemi Cave, the Puntali Cave and the Giovanna Cave
Additional works by prehistoric man can be found in other caves throughout the area. Although the largest finds were discovered in Cala del Genovese and Addaura, stop by Niscemi, Puntali and Giovanna to see other pictures of animals and nature symbols. These drawings were typical of the time period and offer more evidence of the richness of life experienced over ten thousand years ago.