The MAC, Museo Archeologico di Colfiorito (Archaeological Museum of Colfiorito) was recently completed in August 2011 and is a “container” of the material culture of the ancient Plestine people. This ancient Umbrian ethnic group lived in the Karst Plateaus of the Umbria-Marche Apennines since prehistoric times. The project, financed by the Region of Umbria and the Municipality of Foligno, involved the restructuring of the old Colfiorito internment camp infirmary and was assigned to architect Roberto De Rubertis. The exhibition rooms were set up by the Department of Archaeological Heritage of Umbria. Visitors may travel through centuries of history, starting with ancient palaeontological findings, epigraphic discoveries, remains of Plestine necropolises, ending with rooms dedicated to local cults, a Roman-era town hall and Langobard artifacts. The journey, which spans thousands of years of history and is located in a modern site with cutting edge audio visual installations, serves to promote the local culture to a wide audience.

The Plestine territory and palaeontological sites

The Plestine territory is located in the Umbria-Marche Apennines on a territory subjected to karstification and at an altitude between 750 and 800 m. The mountains surrounding Colfiorito consist of limestone sedimentary rocks formed on the bottom of the Tethys Ocean (which separated the African plate from the Eurasian plate) during the Late Triassic (more than 200 million years ago). The plateau is a karst-tectonic depression, which means that is was shaped by tectonic movements and by the corrosive action of rain on limestone. Subsoil drainage cannot compensate rainwater, thereby resulting in the formation of lake basins which were later reclaimed by human intervention. The evolution of Quaternary Period mammals in the Colfiorito karst basin can be traced from the fossil deposits.

Hippopotamus of Collecurti

In the areas of Collecurti and Cesi, in the Municipality of Serravalle del Chienti, the fluvial sedimentary rocks preserve vertebrate fossil remains from the Galerian age (Early Pleistocene). Pollens from plant fossils have been analyzed and the picture that emerges is of a cool and damp climate with moderate winter temperatures. Remains of mammals, such as elephants, rhinoceroses, deer, dogs, bears, hyenas and rodents have been found in Collecurti, though the most abundant species is the hippopotamus. The deposit can be dated between theEarly and Mid Pleistocene (900,000 years ago) during which migratory and evolutionary changes occurred in species due to climatic changes. From the lake basin of Cesi emerged elephants, rhinoceroses, equidae, hippopotamuses, fallow deer, deer, bison and saber-toothed tigers, which can be dated to 700,000 years ago when the environment consisted of open spaces and sparse woods.