Room 3

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Population

The natural amphitheatre formed by the moraines, rich in edible plants, was already inhabited in the Palaeolithic by groups of hunter-gatherers. There are also numerous signs of farmer settlements from the Neolithic period. A new civilisation developed along the coast of Lake Garda in the Bronze Age at the beginning of the 2nd Millennium BC; it was the Polada, so called from the name of a small basin located near the moraines east of Lonato del Garda. A plough dating back to 2000 BC was unearthed in Lavagnone near Desenzano del Garda; it’s the most ancient plough ever discovered, not only in Europe but in the whole world. From the 4th century to the middle of the 1st century BC, the western shore of Lake Garda belonged to the Cenomani but it was then annexed, together with Brescia, to the Roman Empire.

Many villas were built in the south of the lake, for example those in Sirmione and Desenzano, but the remains of a Roman villa were also found in Toscolano. Settled in the southern part of the Lake, the Lombards rarely reached Northern Garda. It was the same for the Hungarians who appeared in the area almost three centuries later in 899. Following their invasion, the peoples of Garda reacted by building fortifications. Any trace of them has been lost though: the ricetto castles still visible today in Valtenesi were built between the 11th and 15th centuries.
Numerous rural churches were built in Northern Garda: sculptures from the Early Middle Ages found inside the churches indicate that most of them were built before the year 1000. You can now admire the most ancient map of Garda; it is its earliest cartographic representation, which dates back to the end of the 14th century.