Museo Nazionale Preistorico dei Balzi Rossi, Ventimiglia (IM), Liguria, Italy

Almost near the border with France, the Balzi Rossi Promontory is one of the main prehistoric sites on Europe. The caves are located just below the village of Grimaldi, in a high rock wall descending steeply to the sea, and receive the name from the reddish color of the rock.
Museo Nazionale Preistorico dei Balzi Rossi - Liguria Address: frazione Grimaldi di Ventimiglia (Imperia), telephone 0184/ 38113
Website: http://www.archeoge.liguria.beniculturali.it/index.php?it/117/museo-preistorico-dei-balzi-rossi
Visiting hours: 8.30 - 19.30 Tuesday to Sunday

The earliest researchers of the site were French scientist de Saussure and prince Florestano I of nearby Monaco. The museum was founded in the late 19th century by Thomas Hanbury, an Englishman in love with this part of Liguria, whose villa surrounded by wonderful gardens is in Ventimiglia.

The caves of the area were used since the lower Paleolithic as lodgings by Homo Sapiens Sapiens, and in the Upper Paleolithic as sepulchre areas and the attached Museum allows to follow the history of the settlement, with models of the grottos at different moments in prehistory, and includes also visits to some of the grottos. Among the most remarkable sights is the "Triplice Sepoltura", which was found in the Barma Grande grotto and is preserved in the museum locals, and consists of the remains of an adult man of exceptional height, 190 cm, with two youths, all buried in one sepulchre and covered with red ochre, together with an exceptionally rich set of items. Another important sepulchre was found in the so-called Grotta dei Fanciulli, and consisted of the skeletons of two children, with a great number of pierced shells beside them, probably left by ornaments.

In the two grottos of Barma Grande and the Principe 15 small bone-carved statues were found, the so-called Venuses, representing female figures with large breasts and hips, probably symbol of fertility. Other remarkable items are fossil remains of elephas, rhinos and hippos, but also, coming from a colder geological age, reindeer. The human remains found in the caves belong to the so-called "Grimaldi race", belonging to the Cro-Magnon group. An exeptional item found in the caves is a graffiti representing the Prewalskii horse, made by a prehistoric artist of 20,000 years ago.

More info on the town of Ventimiglia