The collection, made up of stone tools completely similar to those discovered in 1850 by the pioneer of prehistoric studies Boucher de Perthes, has been "rediscovered" thanks to the most modern research technologies and enhanced in an exhibition that combines the nineteenth-century dimension of research to the contemporary one. In the 150th anniversary of the Civic Museum, the title "Primordi" evokes multiple references to the origins: the origins of man, the origins of Prehistory as a scientific discipline, the origins of museums, such as that of Modena, whose foundation received a fundamental impulse precisely from the debates on the antiquity of man.
The project of study and enhancement of the collection is part of the rediscovery of nineteenth-century collections preserved in the deposits. After the "rediscovery" of the Egyptian collection, it is now the turn of a collection of Palaeolithic flint artefacts from the Somme valley in France. Also on this occasion, the archaeological study of the finds, entrusted to Marta Arzarello of the Department of Humanistic Studies of the University of Ferrara, was supported by research on how to form a collection with a highly evocative value. In fact, Boucher was the pioneer of prehistoric studies. de Perthes to be the first to collect numerous artefacts similar to those of the Modena collection in the Somme valley in the mid-19th century and to associate them with paleontological remains. This and other discoveries started the studies of Prehistory in Europe and had great importance in the debate between creationists and evolutionists who contributed to the birth of Prehistory as a scientific discipline and to the foundation of museums such as the one in Modena, which this year celebrates the 150th anniversary.
One of the most curious and innovative aspects of the exhibition is the reference, evoked by an introductory film, to the stereotypes that have always accompanied the perception of the most ancient period of humanity. Among these, the best known is the linear image of evolution, which has long been supplanted by a scientifically updated vision known by the definition of "bush", borrowed from the natural environment.