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Excavation

  • San Felice
  • Gravina in Puglia
  •  
  • Italy
  • Apulia
  • Bari
  • Gravina in Puglia

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Credits

  • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

    MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

    ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

    AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

  • AIAC_logo logo

Summary (English)

  • Since 2004, a team of archaeologists led by Drs. Hans vanderLeest and Myles McCallum have engaged in archaeological research at San Felice, a Roman villa site occupied from the last quarter of the first century BC to the early decades of the third century AD. Research at the site has included geophysical prospection, excavation, and finds analysis. To date, we have excavated over 700 square metres of the structure at San Felice.

    Our investigations have revealed that the site was initially a private estate which subsequently came into the possession of the emperor, likely during the first century AD. Activity at the site can be divided into three occupational phases (late 1st BC to early 1st AD; mid first AD to early second AD; mid second AD to early third AD) and a post-occupational phase of unknown date (likely either the late third AD or the early seventh AD).

    The structure was originally a peristyle villa set on a terraced basis villa with a series of well-appointed rooms lining the edge of the terrace, each with a view over the Basentello Valley. During the third phase, much of the site was converted from a residence to a facility engaged in wool processing, textile production, sheep rearing, and possibly hunting. Throughout its occupation, the site shows evidence for commercial contacts with the colony of Venusia, and several new ITS stamps likely associated with pottery production at Venusia have been recovered at the site.

    During the post occupational phase, the building material and metal from the site was reused and recycled for use either in the expansion of Vagnari in the late third/early fourth century AD, or the construction of a medieval village on the top of Serra San Felice during the seventh century AD. Archaeobotanical evidence suggests that during the last occupational phase and the post-occupational phase, the site’s inhabitants may have been subsisting on a starvation-level diet, although further excavation and analysis is required to confirm this.

    During excavations in 2008, we recovered a mortarium stamped with a menorah in contexts associated with the third phase. This suggests that there was at least one Jew at the site during this period. It will be interesting to see if this Jewish presence is corroborated by excavation and analysis of the human skeletal remains at the Vagnari cemetery (directed by Dr. Tracy Prowse, McMaster University). Future work will seek to clarify the activities carried out here during the third phase, regional commercial links to sites such as Venusia and other imperial sites in Puglia and Basilicata, and why the site was abandoned.

  • Myles McCallum - Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada  
  • Hans vanderLeest - Department of Classics, Mount Allison University new Brunswick, Canada 

Director

  • Hans vanderLeest - Department of Classics, Mount Allison University new Brunswick, Canada
  • Myles McCallum - Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Team

  • Michael MacKinnon - University of Winnipeg
  • Anthony Taylor - University of Nevada, Reno
  • Robyn Veal - University of Sydney
  • Hans vanderLeest - Department of Classics, Mount Allison University new Brunswick, Canada
  • Myles McCallum - Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada
  • Liam Cooney - Durham University
  • Lisa Brown - University of Edinburgh

Research Body

  • Department of Classics, Mount Allison University new Brunswick, Canada
  • Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada
  • The British School at Rome

Funding Body

  • Department of Classics, Mount Allison University new Brunswick, Canada
  • Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada

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