The archaeological activity carried out in Italy in the last fifteen years is treated in this Appendix region by region. Please refer to the ” archeology ” section of the individual items.
The second post-war period, and in particular the last thirty years, represented the real formative period for Italian medieval archeology; in fact, it is only since the 1960s that an autonomous scientific discipline has been developing in our country aimed at the archaeological analysis of the medieval world.
A general revival of historical interest for the Middle Ages as a whole, witnessed for example by already at the beginning of the fifties from the foundation of the Italian Center for Studies on the High Middle Ages in Spoleto, the Italian archaeological culture, still strongly linked to a classicistic and historical-artistic conception, had not paid a similar attention to medieval problems, gained in the pre-war period (Manacorda 1982; Delogu 1986). This circumstance is borne out by the fact that the first archaeological researches on medieval sites in our country, albeit encouraged and directed by Italian historians such as GP Bognetti and CG Mor, were carried out by foreign researchers, as in the case of the excavations of Castelseprio (Varese) and Torcello ( Venice), led by
Despite this initial delay with respect to the experiences that had already developed in Western Europe in the previous decades, medieval Italian archeology established itself as an autonomous scientific discipline with great rapidity precisely in the decade 1965-75, both from an institutional point of view and under the more strictly scientific one. In 1966 the first teaching of medieval archeology was activated at the Catholic University of Milan; at the same time the Museum of the High Middle Ages in Rome was brought to life, while in the following years the first medievalist inspectors were hired at the Archaeological Superintendencies. Meanwhile, the initiative of the Corpus of Italian Early Medieval Sculpture was developing, by the Center of Spoleto, what would later become (1981) the Institute for the history of material culture was born in Liguria, opportunities for debate were born (Round Table, 1976) and specialized magazines – in particular first the Notiziario di Archeologia Medieval and later Medieval Archeology -, around which the theoretical debate on the development of the discipline and the comparison between the research experiences conducted in Italy and in Europe was coagulating. Just the subtitle of the magazine Medieval Archeology – Material Culture, Settlements, Territory- can indicate what have been the great lines of research of medieval Italian archeology in the last twenty years.
The great theoretical re-evaluation in the historical context of the study of material culture, that is, of the set of knowledge about the productive organization, distribution and consumption of goods (Kula 1972, pp. 61-69; Carandini 1975, pp. 95-102), intended as a fundamental tool for the reconstruction of long-term historical processes, led to an in-depth study of some of the most widespread materials in the medieval world – in particular ceramics, but also glass and metals – which make up most of the finds from the stratifications of the medieval era.
In this sense, the typological study of ceramic artefacts from stratigraphic excavations has led to the construction of precise seriations, divided by epochs and places of production, which today allow us to have a sufficiently complete repertoire of Italian ceramic productions of the full and low medieval age (Francovich 1982), up to the Renaissance and post-Renaissance age (Ricci 1985; Gelichi 1988), while much work still remains to be done in the study of early medieval ceramic materials. In other respects, the analysis of the grave goods found in the necropolis of the Goth and Longobard periods has allowed us to reconstruct the fundamental lines of the culture and social organization of the peoples who migrated to Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire (von Hessen, Peroni, 1979.
As for the study of settlement typologies, the last decades have seen the affirmation of urban archeology as a discipline aimed at applying the stratigraphic archaeological method to the study of the city in the formation and becoming of its urban fabric, of its residential nuclei, monumental and not, of its public, civil and religious buildings. The restoration initiatives of monumental buildings – this is the case, for example, of the civic tower of Pavia (Hudson 1981), or of the Palazzo dei Vescovi in Pistoia (L’antico palazzo, 1985), or of the Hospital of S. Maria della Scala in Siena (Santa Maria della Scala, 1991) -, of recovery and rehabilitation of entire sectors of historic centers – we will cite the cases of Rome (Manacorda 1981) and Naples (Arthur 1985) -, or even of the creation of new public services – it is the case for example. of the new Milan underground (Brogiolo 1987; Excavations MM3, 1991) – have been transformed into as many occasions to carry out important archaeological investigations that shed new light on the transformation processes of the great urban centers of our peninsula in medieval times. In the development of the archaeological investigation of inhabited centers, alongside the actual excavation – the conduct of which is often problematic within large urban agglomerations (Carver 1983) – a role of great importance is assumed by the application of the archaeological method- stratigraphic to the study of the elevated, a practice of non-destructive analysis which, applied during the restoration of public and private buildings through a fruitful collaboration between architects, art historians and archaeologists,Archeology and restoration, 1988).
Alongside the archaeological investigation in an urban environment, a fundamental contribution to the knowledge of medieval settlement typologies in our country has been provided in recent decades by the study of abandoned medieval sites, in particular those castral settlements that arose for particular defensive or economic needs and subsequently abandoned. when these needs ceased. In these cases it is possible to conduct an extensive investigation of the entire settlement, thus collecting a wealth of information not only about settlement models, housing types, defensive systems, etc., but arriving – also through a conscious application of modern scientific analysis techniques to samples of organic and inorganic materials – to capture.
Finally, as regards investigations on a territorial scale, the last decades have been marked by the progressive affirmation – also and above all in the wake of the British experience – of a new conception of archaeological research in an extra-urban environment, which includes an entire territory (settlements, roads, cultivated land, woods, uncultivated areas, waterways) as a large unitary context to be studied through the use of diversified methods of investigation, from general reconnaissance to intensive archaeological topography, the use of scientific techniques of archaeological prospecting, up to the execution of targeted excavations on sites of particular interest (Fowler 1990; Finzi 1990). The coordinated use of this type of survey has provided results of great interest, allowing to reconstruct entire areas of the Italian landscape in the Middle Ages, capturing in particular the phases of change, for example. in the passage between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Potter 1975) or in the period of barbarian migrations (Hudson, La Rocca Hudson 1985), up to an integral diachronic reading of a territory from the early stages of its population to the contemporary age (Ferrando Cabona, Gardini, Mannoni 1978).