Riparo Gaban (TN)

Il Riparo Gaban (loc. Piazzina di Martignano – Trento)

B. BAGOLINI e A. PEDROTTI in A. Broglio (edited by) Guide Archeologiche – Preistoria e Protostoria in Italia. 4, Paleolitico, Mesolitico e Neolitico dell’Italia nord- orietale. Unione Internazionele Scienze Preistoriche e Protostoriche, pp. 118-129.


Riparo Gaban is located at Piazzina di Martignano in a narrow hanging valley which runs parallel to the left side of the Adige valley, at about 80 metres above the valley bottom. To the west it is delimited by Doss Castelet (281 m) which hides it from the view of the plain and of which the western ground-water strata descend gently and sink into the sediments of the valley bottom close to the suburb of Solteri (north-eastern periphery of Trento).

The rockshelter is formed by a wide arch 10 metres high and 6 metres wide, and extends for about 60 metres into the Rosso Ammonitico Veronese. Ist exposure at midday and the natural protection from the north winds contribute to maintaining a mild temperature even durin the winter months, and this without doubt favoured the occupation of the site in prehistoric times which is documented, with some lacunae, from the Mesolithic to the Middle Bronze Age.

The site was discovered in 1970 by a group of local amateurs as part of the palaeoethnological activities of the Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali. In 1971 a protective cover was built next to the rockshelter which meant that a permanent excavation could be set up, and work continued almost uninterruptedly until 1985.

Geoseismic and geoeletric soundings and cores carried out by the Ufficio Geologico of the Provincia Autonoma di Trento show that the archaeological deposit extends along the whole of the area inside the rockshelter and in part of the area in front. The profiles of the soundings show that fragments of pottery lie at -2/3 metres and at -5 metres.

The area which has been excavated so far is that next to the rockshelter which covers a surface area of 60 square metres and has been divided into five sectors (I-V), which were numbered according to the order in which they were excavated.  The deposit is partially disturbed by three large pits which were dug in recent times, probably between the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries during major consolidation and reclamation works and the terracing of the valley and surrounding area. Sparse human skeletal remains were found on the bottom of these pits which documents the use of the rockshelter as a burial ground, probably in the Copper Age. The first two pits, which are about 2.8 metres deep, were located in sector I and in sector III, and only  the Mesolithic levels were left intact. The third pit is in sector V and has yet to be excavated. Once these pits had been excavated, they consented an immediate evaluation of the real thickness of the anthropic pack, and the fact that the thick walls which separated the pits were not demolished has enabled an excavation to be carried out over a reduced but fortunately not compromised surface (sectors II-IV-V).

The stratigraphic series at Gaban begins at -1.4 metres below the current ground level and ha s a maximum thickness of about 6 metres.  The sequence is still partially legible today in sector IV on the sections which were left at the centre of the rockshelter and partially in contact with the rock wall:

a)  Sauveterrian Mesolithic deposits (levels FC and FB) and Castelnovian Mesolithic deposits (levels FA and E) with some objects of geometric,  zoomorphic and anthropomorphic mobile art;

b) depoits of the local Early Neolithic defined as “Gaban Gropu” with objects of mobile art (levels D 1-10) and traces of the early Middle Neolithic Square-mouthed Pottery Culture – geometric linear style (level D 0).  Radiocarbon dates: Level D8 2:  B1n- 1778: 5990±45BP; level D2 1:B1n – 1777: 6030±45 BP;

c) Copper Age deposit with abundant traces of metallurgical activities (levels C6-C4) and with a fragment of pottery decorated in metope style and pottery with notches which are not in situ. Radiocarbon date of level C5 Î²2: B1n – 1175: 3950±50 BP;

d) Late Copper Age-beginning of the Early Bronze Age deposits (levels C3-C1). There is very little pottery; alongside large vases decorated with cordons and notched rims there are large dolia with perforated rims underlined by smooth cordons;

e) Early Bronze Age deposits: Polada Culture (level B6-B1). radiocarbon date of level B5a2: B1n – 1775: 3880±60 BP;

f) Early Bronze Age deposits: final aspects which are comparable with the Fiavè III horizon (levels A10-A6);

g) Middle Bronze Age deposits (levels A5-A1). Radiocarbon date of level A5 a2: B1N – 1774: 3410±45 BP.


Research material:

Riparo Gaban: preistoria ed evoluzione dell’ambiente (a cura di Bagolini B., 1980; integrazioni di Pedrotti A., 2007).pdf »»
Nisbet R., 1984. Vegetazione e agricoltura durante l’età del Bronzo al Riparo Gaban (Trento).pdf »»
Girardi S., 2007. Laser scanner e fotografia digitale per la modellazione e l’analisi dei siti archeologici: il caso studio del riparo Gaban.pdf »»
Pedrotti A., 2009. Il riparo Gaban (Trento) e la neolitizzazione della valle dell’Adige.pdf »»
Pedrotti A., 1998. Il gruppo Gaban e le manifestazioni d’arte del primo Neolitico.pdf »»
Bibliografia Riparo Gaban.pdf »»






Bernardino Bagolini, 1980, Riparo Gaban. Preistoria ed evoluzione dell’ambiente. Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali. Edizioni didattiche.

Balista C., 1977, Studio sedimentologico preliminare della successsione stratigrafica del Riparo Gaban (Trento), Preistoria Alpina 13, pp.31-45.

Bisi F., Broglio A., Dalmeri G., Lanzinger M., Sartorelli A., 1987, Bases mésolithiques du Néolithiques ancien an Sud des Alpes, in Kozlowski J.K., Kozlowski S.K.(ed), Chipped stone industries of the early farming cultures in Europa. Archaeologia Interregionalis CCXL, Warsaw, pp. 381-422

Annaluisa Pedrotti, 1981-1982, L’Eneolitico e l’età del Bronzo nella successione stratigrafica del riparo Gaban, Tesi di Laurea Università degli Studi di Bologna – Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia (inedita)


(*) Articolo di B. BAGOLINI e A. PEDROTTI, pubblicato in A. Broglio (a cura di) Guide Archeologiche – Preistoria e Protostoria in Italia. 4, Paleolitico, Mesolitico e Neolitico dell’Italia nord- orietale. Unione Internazionele Scienze Preistoriche e Protostoriche, pp. 118-129.