Geology and geomorphology

The landscape on the back of the Dukes in their triumphal chariots is a wide valley. Right in the middle of it lies a lake, with a sailing boat breezing through it and a small island.

The valley depicted in the Triumphs has a complex history.
The geomorphological evolution of the entire Metauro valley is well known to geomorphologists (landscape scientists), but just a limited number of people know that the plane land of San Silvestro (the one depicted in “the Triumphs”), just like any other river valley in the region of Marche, has changed its aspect many times over the centuries and that there is evidence of the ancient morphology on the skirts at the bottom of the valley (alluvial terraces).

The geomorphology of the landscape in: I Trionfi by Piero della Francesca

The schema shows the different evolution phases of this wide valley during the coldest periods of earth’s history.
The Metauro River flew creating wide intertwined channels, ice dropped from the tops of the Apennines, bears lived in caves and mammoths ruled the valleys.

1 and 2 – The size of the Metauro valley about 250.000 and 20.000 years ago;
3 - The size of the river bed about 500 years ago. The reconstruction was carried out by calculating the heights of the areas next to the river, some of them were buried during the colluviation that followed during the Small Ice Age.
4 - The current size of the river bed. The Metauro River is currently in its bed, creating twists and turns and getting deeper and deeper.