The Paleontological Museum in Montevarchi, included in the patrimony of the Accademia Valdarnese del Poggio, is located in the medieval Franciscan convent of San Lodovico and contains around 2,600 artefacts, coming almost entirely from the Upper Valdarno and dating from the Late Pliocene to Early Pliocene epochs.
The display takes you on a journey millions of years into the past. Through select artefacts, each inserted into reconstructions of their respective environments, visitors can admire the climactic and environmental changes that occurred over the course of the Valdarno’s history, the fauna that was once found in sequoia forests in warm-humid climates 3 million to 100,000 years ago, the Ice Age (2.5 million years ago), the large Pleistocene lake, and the earliest presence of human beings (200,000 years ago).
The collection is a treasure trove of rare specimens, like the Mammuthus meridionalis, an elephant that grew as large as 4 meters high and weighed up to 20 tons, giant hyenas (Pachycrocuta brevirostris) and present-day jaguars (Panthera toscana-gombaszoegensis). Of particular scientific importance is the skull of a Canis etruscus, a sort of wolf that hunted in packs in the Valdarno savannahs and the earliest found example of the species.
In the archeology section, visitors can admire several Etruscan-Roman artefacts from the Valdarno as well as Etruscan artefacts from the Viterbo area, Roman coins and an astonishing kelebe (a funerary krater) from the 3rd-4th century BCE.