During the Neolithic period human beings established a new relationship with nature due to the development of agriculture and farming. The spread of Neolithic groups from the Near East to Europe, has been investigated by mean of mathematical, genetic and environmental models or, as in most cases in Trentino, through the study of pottery typology. The latter is used as a source of information about relationships (eg exchanges, acculturation) between groups or different cultures. However, these studies provide few indications about agricultural techniques and on the relationship between man and domestic species. Currently, what is known is mainly related to studies of stone artefacts that were used to cut, reap, butcher but also to work leather and grind cereals. These studies, based on techno-functional analysis, are still under development but they have already demonstrated the existence of different agro-pastoral traditions and techniques in Italy and in the Mediterranean area, suggesting various dynamics of diffusion and adaptation of the Neolithic communities. This kind of studies are lacking in Trentino despite: a) the role of this region as a passage for Neolithic groups between the North and South of the Alps and b) the current presence of numerous agro-pastoral traditions adapted to the Alpine environment and cultural contexts.
The project developed with the contribution of the CARITRO foundation and the University of Trento, will analyze the appearance and development of the most ancient agro-pastoral practices in Trentino. This goal will be achieved through the study of lithic artefacts found in three archaeological sites (Riparo Gaban, La Vela and Lugo di Grezzana) attesting the neolithization of north eastern Italy. The technological-functional approach has already been successfully applied in other European and Italian contexts but is almost unheard in Trentino. At the same time, an historical-ethnographic research on traditional agro-pastoral activities in the Alpine area will be carried out in order to highlight behavioral recurrences with archaeological data in relation with the environment and production activities.