Terme Euganee Archaeological Park.
Archaeology af Abano and Montegrotto Terme: the steps that led to the reading and reconstruction of the settlement dynamics of the area are numerous, starting from 1700. At that time, a renewed focus on the medical aspects of Euganean thermal baths turned the attention on the historical events in that territory. A series of excavations were thus undertaken by the Marquises Dondi dell’Orologio in their properties located in the modern area of Montegrotto Terme. The treatise “De’ bagni di Abano” by Salvatore Mandruzzato, that summarized the archaeological knowledge on the Euganean basin between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and comprised a map and some designs, still remains of great value. In the nineteenth century the interest of scholars moved towards Este, following the major discoveries of the Iron Age necropolis of the Veneti population, while the finds in the Euganean area were generally random and related to works of construction. Among these, the discovery of the sanctuary in the area between Monte Castello and S. Pietro in Montagnon hill was of great importance. In the twentieth century the finds intensified, but mostly remained in the context of occasional works, with little regard for the historical reconstruction of the area. In the 50s planned excavations (and particularly those in the modern archaeological area of Via degli Scavi) and some attempts of interpretive synthesis, such as the work of Luciano Lazzaro, were first started.
Prehistory and protohistory of the territory of Abano are little known. Only since the late Iron Age, coinciding with the last centuries of the first millennium B.C., the news are less fragmented, suggesting a territorial occupation mainly linked to the sacred. For the earlier millennia, only a few isolated objects with no specific provenance (except for one single find) are known to date. For the prehistoric period the only certain element is a flint arrowhead, still unpublished and preserved at the National Prehistoric Museum of Rome, which can be dated to a period between the IV and III millennia B.C. (late Neolithic and early Bronze Age). A first, less sporadic occupation is attested by some weapons dated between X and VIII century B.C. (Iron Age): an eye-ax of “Abano type” and a bronze spearhead.
Over the years a number of pre-protohistoric objects emerged accidentally in the area of Montegrotto Terme. Their presence testifies the intensity and the continuity of the ancient populating in this area. On the basis of archival records the “numerous finds” include stone tools, related to Upper Paleolithic (36.000-10.000 years ago), Neolithic (I-IV millennium B.C.) and Bronze Age (II millennium B.C.). In a note “protohistoric vessels” – thus dated to the II-I millennium B.C., corresponding to the Bronze and Iron Ages – preserved at Eremitani Museum in Padua are also mentioned. According to Dämmer, some votive bronzes and other Iron Age artifacts in museum collections which were for long time considered “ex voto” of the sanctuary between Monte Castello and San Pietro Montagnon hill may also come from other parts of the territory. Among the items found in Abano, but not related to the sanctuary, there is also a votive bronze paddle.
The oldest artifacts known to date on the eastern side of the Euganean hills come from “Mondonego”: in fact some flint tools date back to 120.000-36.000 years ago (Middle Paleolithic). The discovery of an instrument in flint of the late Upper Paleolithic, which coincides with the end of the Ice Age between 20.000 and 10.000 years ago, has also great importance. The significance of this artifact, collected on the ground surface, affects natural history as well. The fact that something so old was not buried under thick sedimentary layers allows to assume that, by the end of the Paleolithic, the low Euganean plain had a similar conformation to what is known at present. Such plain wasn’t thus shaped by the rivers of historical age, but by the powerful flooding and erosions associated with glacial cycles. There are also numerous flint tools of the VI millennium B.C. (Ancient Neolithic) that are clue, with the contexts of V – IV millennium B.C. (Middle and Late Neolithic) of the nearby Galzignano area, of the widespread presence of man in these plains during the first two millennia of the agricultural history.