Working for an electronic database of historical stone resources in Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Italy)
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is situated in northeast Italy, on the border with Austria and Slovenia. The availability of stone from many different sites across the geographical area of the Carnian and Julian Alps, the foothills and the eastern Karst has meant that, historically, a great variety of stone materials has been employed in the region. The sources of these materials are well documented as are the locations of earlier quarries, providing evidence that small-scale local quarrying operated throughout the region for more than two thousand years. In the modern period, from the beginning of the 20th century, these quarries were progressively abandoned. It is only recently that the area of historical building resources has started to attract new attention and detailed studies have been carried out into the use of natural stone materials, both from the geological and architectural points of view. The results of these studies are of great importance for the history of construction, and they also provide useful support for restoration. However, there is a great need for a comprehensive system to organize the considerable amount of data from historical documents and recent research. At present, much of the information available is accessible only to specialists, a situation which hinders the sharing of knowledge and the development of the field. In order to meet this need, a research project is in progress which aims to create an electronic database of the historical stone resources of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Based on the historical listings of quarries included in two 19th century surveys of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the database will describe the sites with existing buildings and other constructions in which the quarried materials were employed supplementing the data, where possible, with illustrations and specific references. The aim of the work is not only to demonstrate the great variety of stone resources in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the influence of this on the history of building, but also to allow the cross-disciplinary correlation between architectural, material and geographical data. Once the database has been implemented, it is hoped that it will provide a continuously upgraded resource for future conservation and restoration projects.
Figures & Tables
Natural stone is considered to be a versatile, durable and aesthetically pleasing building material. From the beginning of civilization, important structures and monuments have been built from, or based on, natural stone. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the use of local stone resources was mostly in balance with the local environment. Strict environmental legislation has resulted in the closing of many long-standing quarries in industrialized countries, which has led to a shortage of traditional stone varieties. This has caused problems for restoration practice. Cheap, imported stone from less industrialized countries has become more widely available in recent years.
Some of the issues related to built stone conservation and restoration covered by this volume are: the establishment of inventories of possible replacement stones; understanding the decay mechanism and use of preventive conservation methods for slowing down decay processes; evaluation of the properties of natural stone; and assessing the risks of using replacement stones of different qualities.