Archaeological excavations on Monte S.Martino
Since a few days, the archaeological inquiry on the top of “San Martino” mount in Trentin, in the mountain range between Lomaso and Altogarda, undertaken by the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage of the Independent Province of Trent, concerning the ancient fortress which was brought to light 4 years ago has restarted.
It is reachable by just one hour and a half on foot from Lundo, and it is bringing back to life a barbarian fortress, the last, isolated bulwark of the ancient Garda system and of the rich towns in the Po plain: Verona and Brescia.
The excavation campaign, which has reached its fourth year, will go on up to the end of August. The excavation site has reached an extreme importance: this is why the experts all around Europe are already promoting and studying this case.
In particular the “Kommission zur vergleichenden Archäologie römischer Alpen und Donauländer der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften” which will come under partnership with the Independent Province of Trent and the municipal district of Lomaso, in order to co-operate in archaeological researches and studies in the particular Trentin archaeological environment.
The partnership programme has been approved this morning, during the meeting in Malga Stabio, by the provincial council.
The interest of the “Bayerische Akademie” for the barbarian fortress on Monte San Martino is so important because the Bavarian cultural center focuses its researches on research and scientific divulgation of sites, settlements, necropolis, and cultural events of all the populations which gave birth to the Roman-barbarian kingdoms, which put an end to the ancient civilization and represent the modern Europe’s roots.
The Province interest in starting the co-operation is grounded by the need to promote the consolidation process of the internationalization and enhancement of the research system in Trentin, basing it on reciprocity and co-operation with other scientific and technological research authorities, and on the quality of its members, a fundamental resource for the growth and development of the whole Trentin community.
The archaeological site in Monte San Martino hosts very important elements which bear witness to the hard years going back to Goths, Byzantines, Lombards and Frankish in the Trentin territory.
That is a site of really high potential, since it gives a lot of data and documents about an historical period which was fundamental for the constitution of the whole region Trentin.
As the years before, the excavation campaign is in the “summer school campus” mode: this means that students and university graduates in medieval Archaeology, can participate to this event.
Thanks to the necessary resources granted by the Lomaso municipal district, more than 40 students from the University of Trent will take part to the project, in addition to students from other universities in Italy, that participate to the excavation on Monte San Martino since 2004.
The advantage for students is that they can integrate their classes with the practical researches on stage and through the archaeological excavations; some students have reported the data, objects and documents found in these excavations also in their degree discussion.
In the last four years, the work in Lomaso area brought much information about events and activities related to a place unknown to history up to now, and to written documents.
These events are related to a particular period for Trentin history, uncertainty and alternating situations and cultures, a period where the insecurity was dominating; but this also meant that people were able to have an exchange with other cultures in a society which soon became multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural.
On one hand, as we all know today, the Barbarian will arrive: Ostrogothics, Goths, Lombards and Frankish; on the other hand, traditions and roman culture remain deep-rooted in the population, thanks to Byzantium and the papacy which could be considered as a new model and referrer for many layers of population of social life.
“On Monte San Martino – declares Enrico Cavada, archaeologist of the Trentin Superintendence and teacher of Medieval Archaeology in Trentin University – amazing are human’s actions: the construction of a huge defence system with advanced bastions and inner wall, and inside them other buildings with different functions along the years.
The place that is being discovered right now is an isolated but highly strategic place, in relation to the other main ways to the central Alps towards the Garda Lake and some important cities.”
The defence system shows an extraordinary and exceptional conservation status.
After having found the main elements of this system, the researches have disclosed, starting from 2005, the ruins of the walls of a big residential building, built on the top of the mount; it was skilfully made of stones and mortar, which was previously protected by the boundary wall.
That building expanded on more than one floor, and had more rooms with several functions. It also had an external courtyard and warehouses. It was surely inhabited during the Goths period, that means 200 years before the Lombards domain in Italy; unfortunately the next function is still unknown also because it was replaced with a really important church, considering its ‘hidden’ meanings and references.
The church, protected and isolated is still amazing and visible for the whole “Giudicarie” territory, it is included in the ancient building’s ruins and built using the stones taken from the previous building, and still protected by the walls that, for sure, remained stable for a long time.
Who lived on the “Monte San Martino” and who promoted the building of the church surely had a lot of resources and represented a high social status, different from the ones who, in the same period, lived in other settlement places, usually at lower altitudes, in agricultural areas.
The first ones were rich people, who constantly received refurbishments from outside, considering the position.
These refurbishments were testified by precise indicators that explain about corn, cereals, legumes, meat, wine, oil bought or taken through inland revenue: they could have this ware, if they took place in tasks of public utility or for the whole territory.
Up to now, there is not enough information to interpretate more: the excavation project goes on.
There are still several unanswered questions; one of those is who and why decided to build a church on this mountain, dedicating it to Saint Martin (San Martino), which was particularly esteemed by Frankish and Carolingians, due to their partnership with the famous monastery in Tours, founded by Clovis and always celebrated with donations and presents.
As explained also in the recent international meeting in Susa about Charlemagne and the Alps, where the first results of the researches on Monte San Martino have been publicly shown, the church was the destination of many devotional people, and also of politicians that tried to establish their supremacy on a community which was slowly walking into their medieval future.
The ruins of the church have been put in security and that area is now available to be visited, thanks to the strengthening works created by the Lomaso municipal district with the financial and operational management of the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage of the Independent Province of Trent.
For any information write to the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage of the Independent Province of Trent : sopr.archeologica(AT)provincia.tn.it