I progetti dell'Ecomuseo Argentario: ricerca, documentazione, didattica, divulgazione, valorizzazione...

Archeology of the Mons Argentarius

22 DIC '15

Starting in 2013 Ecomuseo Argentario has established a collaboration with the University of Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) to study the Medieval mining trails on the plateau of Monte Calisio-Argentario. The mining activity aimed to supply the mint of Trento with silver and is documented at least from the 13th century in a chapter of the Codex Wangianus, one of the oldest mining charter in Europe.

The tangible proofs of this industry are tens of thousands of mineshafts (which are called cadini by locals) and a labyrinth of underground tunnels known as canope. This term comes from the ancient German knappen, which indicated the miners of Germanic origins, the canopi indeed, who had been summoned by the Prince-bishop of Trento to extract silver in Calisio.

A team of archaeologists specialized in mining archaeology came precisely from Germany to document and understand these ancient trails and to reconstruct the life and work of the canopi.

The collaboration with the Ecomuseo started with the project called “Memorie dal Sottosuolo” (Memories from the subsoil), with the participation of the Science Museum of Trento-MUSE and which was co-founded by the Foundation CARITRO. The project has been launched thanks to the meeting with Dr. Martin Straßburger, a collaborator of the Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege and researcher with expertise in mining archaeology, who wrote a PhD thesis on the mining activity between the 14th and the 19th centuries in Schauinsland (a region of Baden-Württemberg).

In April 2013 Dr. Straßburger came for a first inspection on the plateu of Monte Calisio which lasted a few days: the mining context was found to be extremely interesting to understand the extraction techniques used during the Middle Ages throughout Europe. Dr. Straßburger decided then to continue the research and took his students to visit Trentino for the annual field trip of his course.

The project was also financed by the University of Munich thanks to a tender for new research projects (Deutsche Forschung Gemeinschaft). Professor Päffgen, expert in Medieval archaeology, served as general supervisor.

The fieldwork consisted in the exploration and meticulous survey of some canope, documenting the trail of working activity and geological data and taking samples to be analyzed with Carbon-14. The visible human traces were detected on the surface with GPS.

The Ecomuseo Argentario Association, which was created precisely with the aim of protecting and enhancing the mining heritage of Monte Calisio, has been promoting investigation and research activities within the framework of a memorandum of understanding which was drawn up in 2012 with the Department responsible for Cultural Heritage of the Autonomous Province of Trento.

The conducted studies will be necessary for the scientific output, as well as to improve knowledge of the ecomuseum area and enhance its educational and tourism offerings: especially the exploration and survey of the Canopa delle Acque will lead to a project aimed at promoting the area. This project is already being drawing up and is awaiting funding.

Future plans include: processing of the collected data (digitalization of the surveys, photogrammetry, upload of the GPS data on the GIS platform), an in-depths analysis of the historical context (especially through the Codex Wangianus and the comparison with the material data), showing the results of the activities with lectures, conventions and scientific publications.