During the Bronze Age, between 1650 and 1170 B.C., the Po Plain was studded with an impressive network of fortified villages surrounded by embankments and a moat. The dwellings were often on stilts, even if they weren’t always immediately adjacent to watercourses. This settlement model, and the intensive farming and livestock raising methods that were developed with it, was the hallmark of the Terramare civilization, one of the most significant cultural phenomena in Italian and European proto-history.
Concentrated in central and western Emilia, especially around Modena, Reggio Emilia, Parma, and Piacenza, these villages were numerous and rather large, between 1 and 20 hectares in surface. Their complex structural characteristics reflected highly evolved organizational and construction skills. The landscape itself was profoundly transformed, with deforestation, large-scale agriculture, drainage systems, and the damming of rivers. Intensive farming and livestock-raising resulted in a booming human population and the development of arts and crafts, while trade with other areas in Italy, France, and Europe brought valuable and prestigious artefacts into local homes. The Modena Museum displays a rich selection of material documenting the local Terramare settlements of S. Ambrogio, Redù, Gorzano, Tabina di Magreta, Gaggio Montano, Casinalbo, and Montale. The latter hosts an archaeological park and outdoor museum with a modern replica of a part of the village.