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The location of The Writings

Clicking on the picture you can see in detail the area in which there were found the writings of the shepherds.

The Rock Archive Project. In the footsteps of the Fiemme shepherds in the Latemar-Cornón mountain group: an ethno-archaeological survey

Project Leaders: Marta Bazzanella and Giovanni Kezich, Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina (Museum of the Traditions and Customs of the People of Trentino)

Ethnographic research conducted by the Museum of the Traditions and Customs of the People of Trentino (MUCGT) since 2006 with old shepherds of the valley to provide an interpretation of the phenomenon of shepherds’ inscriptions brought to light two rock shelters, the Trato and the Mandra di Dos Capèl, used, respectively, as a temporary resting place in the daily transference from the valley villages for grazing and as a seasonal refuge during the summer season.

Excavations, conducted in 2007 in the two shelters to confirm information given by the shepherds, revealed, below the historical levels, a number of occupations characterized by the presence of hearths and carbon deposits despite the absence of material culture items.

The radiometric dating of charcoal in these layers unexpectedly demonstrated that the shelters had already been used in prehistoric/ protohistoric times: during the Copper Age, the Late Bronze Age, the first and second Iron Ages, thus establishing the likely start of pastoral activity in the Fiemme Valley during the Copper Age.

Dendrochronological analysis conducted on the wooden structure present in one of the shelters, identified specific phases of construction of the shelter, confirming information obtained from ethnographic investigation.

The research phases

  • Identification of two rock shelters: in Trato and Mandra di Dos Capel (in the municipality of Ziano di Fiemme), where it was decided to establish dates for the oldest occupation with two stratigraphic excavations. The first shelter was chosen for the presence of a notably large area of inscriptions, the second shelter was identified by the presence of a small shelter structure built against the rock face, of a rather archaic construction and used by the shepherds up to the 1940s: in particular it was possible to trace the shepherd to use it last.
  • Relief map showing the two shelters, made in collaboration with the Technical Office of the Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme (dott. Andrea Bertagnolli).
  • Photographic and graphic survey of the inscribed area in Trato (Paul Borsato, MUCGT collaborator).
  • Ethnographic investigation carried out in the valley of Fiemme with the making of six video interviews with shepherds who had worked in the 1940s to 1960s in the Fiemme valley and with shepherds still active in transhumance.
  • The video interviews were carried out by Michele Trentini (MUCGT), and are stored at the Provincial Archives for Oral Tradition (APTO-MUGT).
  • Ethno-archaeological investigation: two stratigraphic surveys were conducted, in Trato, where the investigated area was 1m x3m and in Mandra di Dos Capel, where 4m x 2m was investigated
  • Marta Bazzanella (MUCGT), Ursula Wierer (University of Siena), , Barbara Mazzoni and Luca Pisoni (collaboratori MUCGT), Jarno Bontadi (IVALSA/CNR), Walter Biondani and Walter Panato (University of Trento) and Giovanni Kezich (MUCGT) participated in the excavation.
  • Geomorphological survey by Dr. Pierluigi Pieruccini (geologist at the University of Siena). The surveys carried out included the geomorphological mapping of the area, carried out on the ground and through aerial photography, stratigraphic and sedimentological analysis of the layers identified by the excavation. Stratigraphic sedimentological aspects have been addressed through the analysis of the facies of the deposits, in order to characterize the depositional environments.
  • Dendrochronological dating of the shelter structure located in Mandra di Dos Capel, with determination of the wood type of individual wooden poles. The analyzes were conducted by Mauro Bernabei and Jarno Bontadi of the IVALSA/CNR of San Michele.
  • Radiocarbon dating by high-resolution mass spectrometry (AMS), of activated carbon from the layers of the two deposits excavated. Dating conducted at the Centre for Dating and Diagnostics (CEDAD) University of Salento, Department of Engineering Innovation (Lecce), performed on eighteen carbon samples.
  • Preliminary analysis of the physical and chemical properties of the inscriptions and of the main processes of their erosion along two of the access routes to the top of Cornón. The sampling and analysis were performed by Romina Belli and Laura Toniutti (Department of Physics, University of Trento).

Bodies involved in the research phase

  • University of Trento, Faculty of Science, Department of Physics
  • Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme
  • Superintendency for Archaeological Heritage of the Autonomous Province of Trento
  • IVALSA/ CNR, San Michele all’Adige
  • SAT (Società Alpinisti Tridentini – ‘Mountaineering Club’) Tesero branch
  • Municipality of Ziano di Fiemme

Bodies involved in the implementation stage

  • Centre for Dating and Diagnostics (CEDAD) University of Salento, Department of Engineering Innovation (Lecce)