Beyond physical space. Virtual exhibition proposal for the site of Poggetti Vecchi (Grosseto, Italy)
The middle Pleistocene site of Poggetti Vecchi (Grosseto, Italy) was excavated in 2012 when the construction of a thermal pool brought to light a stratigraphic succession with various levels of human frequentation. The data suggest that the presence of thermal water made Poggetti Vecchi a refuge area for animals and Neanderthals at the beginning of the penultimate glaciation (MIS6), when the climate was getting colder.
The oldest archaeological unit (U2), dating around 171,000 years BP, consists of a palaeo-surface on which the remains of large fauna, stone and bone tools, and wooden artefacts were found. The remains of seven individuals of Palaeloxodon antiquus were found, probably belonging to a single family of elephants who died of natural causes. The most significant finds consist of fragments of digging sticks made of boxwood (Buxus sempervirens). Some of the sticks were partially blackened by fire, as a result of the working and finishing of the tools, providing the earliest evidence of the use of fire as an engineering tool.
The particularity of Poggetti Vecchi environmental and archaeological context is ideal for the dissemination of many aspects to a non-specialist public, including the reconstruction of the human-environment relationship in a period of climatic emergency. Despite this, the site of Poggetti Vecchi is still waiting to find a suitable temporary or permanent location for a museum exhibition.
Since physical space is increasingly difficult to find, while digital technologies are more accessible in everyone's daily life, the Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria, as part of its research projects, wanted to promote the outreach of scientific culture through the virtual exhibition "170,000 years ago in Poggetti Vecchi. Neanderthals and Elephants in the Tuscan Maremma, the climate challenge”.
Thanks to technology, with this virtual exhibition it was possible to substitute the real space with a digital reality capable of expanding the visiting experiences. One of the aims is to engage the public in the theme of the relationship between climate change and human communities since the origins of human history.
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