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The human hunter-gatherers of the Palaeolithic prospered until the end of the ice age, around 10,000 BC, when large game became harder to find.
The Neolithic began with the introduction of pottery and the later Gaudo culture in southern Italy, before these both gave way to the Bronze Age.
A hunter is killed in the Italian Alps by an arrow which strikes him in the shoulder.
He still wears his goatskin leggings and grass cape, and his copper-headed axe lies nearby.
Because of their semi-isolation to the west of Italy their language does not undergo the 'qu/kw' to 'p' shift that occurs across most of the West Indo-European dialects.
These tribes include the Brutii, Chones, Dauni, Frentani, Hirpini, Iapyges, Itali, Latins, Lucani, Marsi, Marrucini, Messapii, Morgetes, Oenotri, Opici, Paeligni, Peucetii, Picentes, Sabini, Samnites, Umbri, Veneti, Vestini, and Volsci.
This proto-Sicani culture also appears on Malta and thrives during the early Bronze Age.
It would seem to be around this time that a process begins in which the so-called West Indo-European tribes, most of whom speak dialects that are intelligible to the other tribes, start a long process of fracturing and dividing.