Medieval mines of Civezzano, Autonomous Province of Trento (IT)

The area of Monte Calisio, around Civezzano (Italy) is a mountainous plateau at an altitude between 800 and 900 meters above the sea level, located in the Southern Alps in the Autonomous Province of Trento. It was a very important medieval mining area. Mostly silver ore (galena argentifera) has been exploited for centuries, especially from the 12th to the 15th century. According to a historical source (Codex Wangianus), a complex working organisation could be reconstructed, including specialised workers coming from Germany (Tirol, Bavaria, Bohemia, Saxony). Thousands of ground de-pressions (sinkholes) indicating former mine shafts partly also detected due to LiDAR scans are still visible on the surface of an area of over 12 km2. A labyrinth of galleries and mine workings has been partly documented; some are still open and well preserved, with mining traces still visible.

Archaeological survey of the mines (photo: Ecomuseo Argentario)


Archaeological ground monuments especially such as mining sinkholes are continuously endangered by agricultural activities, for instance by viticulture. In addition, serious damage to the integrity of archaeological goods – which can be found in the silver mines of Civezzano, is caused by illegal and extremely dangerous treasure hunting and caving. There are itineraries and guided tours to discover the traces of mining activity but no gallery is open to the public now. A virtual reconstruction conducted within the project will enable to valorise the mines for regional development, in particular for sharing it with local population, local economy and tourists.

The landscape around Civezzano is heavily modified by mining (photo: Autonomous Province of Trento)


Within the project it is planned to carry out an aerial and terrestrial 3D surveying and to collect data from archives and existing field works. As a result a 3D model of the entire area should be created serving as communication and dissemination product for valorisation purposes. The VirtualArch project will contribute to influencing behaviour and attitude of spatial stakeholders from the fields of agriculture and forestry, regarding their ways of cultivation and management that constitute a source of threat for the precious archaeological remains. Project’s results will be used to propose standards of virtual use and protection of archaeological sites. These will be then integrated in institutional guidelines and directives.

LiDAR scan of area with visible mining relicts (picture: L. Casagrande/Ecomuseo Argentario)


The area is under the authority of different local administrations that are going to be involved as stakeholders. The protection of the heritage, including mines, pits, mining tools, etc. is ensured by the Cultural Heritage Department of the Autonomous Province of Trento, which also takes an active part in the project. It is possible that the survey and other activities are going to take place on private properties. Therefore the involvement of the owners into the project and their authorization will be necessary.

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