With texts and files by Francesca Bertoldi, Michele Chimienti, Alessandra Cianciosi, Margherita Ferri, Rossana Gabrielli, Sauro Gelichi, Mauro Librenti, Sebastiano Lora, Emanuele Magnani, Annamaria Pazienza.
This book is the first volume of a series dedicated to archaeological research on Nonantola and its territory. Launched in 2001 in collaboration with the Municipal Administration of Nonantola and with the cooperation of the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Emilia-Romagna and the Archdiocese of Modena, the project aimed to follow the events of one of the largest abbeys of the European Middle Ages, through a little used instrument, the archaeological one, and taking into account a category of sources even less used for the Middle Ages, namely the material ones.
It had always seemed strange to me that such an important and significant complex, and which had also seen an infinite number of study projects mature and grow (together with the reorganization of its extraordinary archive), had never solicited anything other than rhapsodic and completely incidental research. archaeological. In the past two decades, the archeology of early medieval monasteries in Italy had experienced a happy period of study, without Nonantola having been in any way affected.
This volume contains a series of autonomous contributions, united only by the place and the fact that they were conceived and made within the scope of this project. They are not contributions that follow a coherent path (neither chronological nor topographical), but they account for some results achieved; some are assumed to be definitive (the excavation editions of the Torre dei Modenesi and the Torre dei Bolognesi), others preliminary (the excavation of the necropolis in piazza della Liberazione). A couple of more general texts were added to these. In fact, in the first volume dedicated to Nonantola's project, an article that illustrates the coordinates and aims of the project could not be missing, nor a work that would account for the technical tools used to achieve it.
However, this volume denounces, albeit casually, its thematic homogeneity, when the excavation editions of the two symbolic towers of the town are jointly printed. The study of the fortifications of the village was not among the priorities of the project, but while waiting for the preliminary data on the early medieval abbey to be implemented and enriched by future archaeological investigations, the reconstruction of the historical-settlement events of the late-medieval town constitutes certainly one of the most interesting and decidedly new acquisitions in the history of this site.
I find several reasons for satisfaction in firing this book. The first is that, together with Mauro Librenti, I finally see the realization of a first stage of a project we had been thinking about for some time and that only thanks to the foresight and attention of some local institutions was able to take shape and develop. The second is linked to the ways in which our presence in Nonantola was consolidated. The Teaching of Medieval Archeology, together with the Municipal Administration of Nonantola, has been (and is) the concessionaire of the excavation activities which, since 2002, have been carried out annually near and inside the abbey church. However, in the winter of 2004, the Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Emilia-Romagna delegated us to follow, in full autonomy, the works of arrangement of the network of services, planned by the Municipal Administration in the historic center. In my opinion, this delegation represented not only a happy experience of cooperation between different institutes, but also an indication of method, insofar as it showed that a university structure can be convincing even in the unusual functions of 'operating group'. The fact that, of that experience, this volume already contains two contributions, seems to me to be the most effective response to a trust paid.
Nonantola's project avails itself of the collaboration of many organizations and institutes, which are mentioned on the back cover. However, let me mention a few individuals individually, without whom this project would not have taken place. For the Municipal Administration, the former mayor Stefano Vaccari and the former councilor for public works Massimiliano Piccinini together with the current mayor Pierpaolo Borsari and the councilor for culture Francesco Guerra. Until the winter 2004 works, Piergiorgio Serafini, the director of public works, was invaluable in helping and operating suggestions. The cooperation of the Archiepiscopal Curia of Modena - Nonantola in the people of Msgr. Adriano Tollari and Don Lino Pizzi; and then of the director of the diocesan archive and museum don Riccardo Fangarezzi and of the parish priest of San Michele, don Paolo Notari. A special thanks goes of course to the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Emilia-Romagna and to the Superintendent Archaeologist Luigi Malnati, for having believed in this experience from the beginning and for helping us to make an archeology also at the service of protection.
The Nonantola Archeoclub and its indefatigable President, Loris Sighinolfi, enthusiastically welcomed our original proposal, committing themselves every day to that precious work of connection with the citizens which has ensured that the interventions, even the most difficult (to be understood) and the most intrusive (to be accepted), have turned out to be an important moment of growth shared by the community.
This project owes a lot to the commitment of the students of the universities of Venice and Parma, who trained here to become part of the group that operated in Nonantola in the winter of last year. It also owes a lot to the self-denial of Francesca Bertoldi and Sebastiano Lora, who took care of the excavations of the cemetery in Piazza Liberazione and who promptly started the study of the anthropological remains (we hope that one of the next volumes in the series will be their own dedicated monograph. to this important context).
This book is then due to the impeccable editorial care of Alessandra Cianciosi, who also played a mature and competent role as coordinator of field activities in 2004.
But the whole archaeological research on Nonantola would not have been possible without the convinced support of Ombretta Piccinini, for years tireless, silent and intelligent driving force of most of Nonantola's cultural initiatives.
Venice, May 2005