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Ancient Elephant Cemetery: a 300,000-year journey

In the Lazio region, more precisely in North Rome, lies one of Europe’s richest deposits. The Ancient Elephant Cemetery houses the remains of 4-meter-tall giants dating back to the Middle Pleistocene, an incredibly ancient era from over 300,000 years ago.

Discoveries from the ancient river of Rebibbia

Today, Rebibbia is an urban area of the capital, but in 1981, urbanization works unearthed the bed of a river from 200,000 years ago. Here, thousands of bone specimens from various species were found: elephants with long tusks, hippopotamuses, deer, rhinoceroses, hyenas, and large bulls. The mud that flowed along the river preserved the bone remains, keeping them in a reasonably good state of conservation.

Ancient Elephant Cemetery
Fossil remains found at the site

In 1984, another excavation revealed a rich paleochannel

A rich deposit was identified during an excavation that began in 1984 and ended in 2014. Approximately 20,000 fauna remains amazed the excavators, along with flint tools and various bones.

Ancient Elephant Cemetery
Close-up on the site with the bones of the giants of the past

Overall, researchers identified a prevalence of remains from the Ancient Elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus), the primordial ox (Bos primigenius), and the red deer (Cervus elaphus).

These areas have long been inhabited by humans, as evidenced by the presence of a molar attributed to Homo heidelbergensis.

Come to discover the Palaeoloxodon antiquus

Another key point was the interest and astonishment behind these discoveries: beyond imagination. The collective scenario was ecstatic, and through funding from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, the site became a museum in 2000.

Immersed in the Roman countryside, not far from the Sabatino volcano, the site of Polledrara di Cecanibbio, or simply the elephant cemetery, awaits you with its nearly 1000 square meters steeped in ancient history.

Ancient Elephant Cemetery
The site hosts more than 20,000 bone finds

The deposit’s preservation state is excellent, while the bones exhibit a good degree of fossilization. The elevated walkway allows a close-up view of the bone remains, helping the visitor grasp the mammoth dimensions of the past giants!

The ancient elephant is the grand protagonist of this evocative scene; remarkably, the remains of more than 30 individuals have been found. Of interest to archaeology enthusiasts is the discovery of the skeleton of an ancient elephant that died after battling a primitive wolf. Indeed, among the elephant’s vertebrae, archaeologists identified its skull.

The deposit preserves over 20,000 bones, a rare and classy idea for an activity in the capital away from the smog of the Roman city and the city chaos.

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