Manorial estates (curtes) mark the Italian rural landscapes of the Carolingian Age. They are often fortified and act as productive centers within a closed-circuit economy. In fact, they represent one of the most important category of central places of this period in Italy, managing vast portions of land and controlling the peasants.
The Archaeodrome is located within the archaeological area of the Park of Poggio Imperiale in Poggibonsi (Tuscany, Italy). It’s an open-air museum based on a full-scale reproduction of the 9th-10th century village, the center of a curtis, excavated by the archaeologists of the University of Siena. Its construction is still in progress.
A large longhouse represents the dwelling of the landlord, most likely to be identified as a milites of the Carolingian army. It is surrounded by spaces dedicated to artisanal activities. A second and much smaller hut houses a peasant family. A hen-house, a blacksmith’s forge, a bread oven and an area dedicated to everyday activities are also part of the Archaeodrome.
The open-air museum, opened in October 2014, proposes a living history approach, halfway between historical re-enactment and experimental archaeology. Our re-enactors are all archaeologists who base their activity on historical, archaeological and iconographic research. They wear self-made historical dresses, reproduce tools and productive processes and act exactly like persons of the 9th-10th centuries. So the audience can live a unique experience of full immersion in a long gone past.
The re-enactors give life to the small community of farmers and craftsmen who conduct their everyday activities around the longhouse, following the orders of their dominus. The blacksmith forges arms and tools, the carpenter carves wood, the cobbler does leather work and the baker grinds the grain and prepares the bread. Within the longhouse the weavers work at the loom with threads dyed at the village, while others cultivate the vegetable garden.
...And when Charlemagne allows it, the landlord returns from war and comes back to his table, collecting the fruits of his land.
In 2015, the Archaeodrome has won the third edition of the Riccardo Francovich Prize, awarded by the Society of Italian Medieval Archaeologists to the museum or archaeological park which represents the best synthesis between accuracy of scientific contents and effectiveness in communicating the same to an audience of non-specialists.