The Grotta del Genovese on Levanzo

In a remote part of Italy, on Levanzo, a tiny island in the Aegadians, there is a prehistoric cave called the Grotta del Genovese. I found out about it by chance, a few summers ago.

You can get there by boat, or on foot from the Levanzo port, with the custodian as your guide.

Grotta del Genovese Levanzo
Entrance of the Grotta del Genovese, Levanzo

The images scratched into the rock there are truly astonishing.
They mostly depict large animals but there are also a few human figures, a fish and a smaller animal that might be a dog. The images were probably made by early humans during propitiatory rituals connected to the hunt.

grotta del Genovese Levanzo
Black paintings dated to the final phase of the Neolithic era

We were told that the cave was discovered entirely by chance in 1949 by a tourist who was, serendipitously I would say, a painter and understood immediately how important it was.

What struck me most and the reason I suggest visiting it is that the incisions inside the cave are from both the Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods, and hence separated by thousands of years.

This is explained by the fact that in 5000 BCE, Levanzo was connected to the mainland by a slender strip of land which later became submerged under water. This forced the island’s early inhabitants to move to the mainland for their survival. The island was not reinhabited until 2500 BCE, the height of the Neolithic period, when the cave started to be used again.

Engravings of large animals dated to the final phase of the Palaeolithic

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