Villanovan Bronze Votive Hands, c. 7th Century BC
Villanovan culture was an Early Iron Age culture in Italy, named after the village of Villanova, near Bologna, where in 1853 the first of the characteristic cemeteries was found. The Villanovan people branched from the Urnfield culture of eastern Europe and appeared in Italy during the 10th or 9th century BC. The Villanovan people were a society of warrior-farmers living in small hut-villages. Their control of mines, metal ore and their expertise in metallurgy are all hallmarks of this era.
Votive items such as these may have been used at cult healing sanctuaries as an offering to cure a particular ailment or given in gratitude after a malady had healed. Votives in bronze are a rarer find since metal was more expensive than the common terracotta alternative.