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Excavation

  • San Vito dei Normanni
  • Castello di Alceste
  •  
  • Italy
  • Apulia
  • Province of Brindisi
  • San Vito dei Normanni

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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)

  • The 2014 campaign concentrated on the area next to the large building, in room 8, where previous excavations exposed a series of structures used for grape pressing and wine fermentation. In the adjacent room 7 (to the south) the evidence suggests the presence of structures for olive pressing: a structure made of ‘pietra leccese’ found in the room can be interpreted as a press, and substantial traces of fatty acids indicating the presence of vegetable oils were identified thanks to chemical analyses and gas-chromatography. Based on these results, it was decided to continue the exploration in the northern part of room 8, to look for evidence confirming the interpretation of this zone as a service area for the working of agricultural products. The excavations took place in quadrants M 1-2-3 and N 2-3.

    The removal of the surface layer exposed a level of collapse, containing few tiles suggesting it related to a semi-covered area, probably with shed roofs. Two walled structures in the east zone can be associated with the working of cereals. Two stone elements from a millstone (US 799) were found connected to structure 790 (quadrant M2). The particularity of this installation lay in the rectangular shape of the millstone and the presence of housings in the upper block. Based on the primary observations, it is possible to link this particularity to the presence of a rotary mill, based on a traction system with staffs and ropes that provided a rotary action with a minimum physical effort. The introduction of rotary mills is at the centre of recent research, which tends to place their origin in the Punic or Iberian area during the course of the 5th century B.C. The 5th century, to which the introduction of this type of technically more advanced mill is usually dated, saw the transition from the ‘va et viens’ system, known from the earliest phases of prehistory.

    The example at Castello di Alceste, dates to the late 6th-early 5th century B.C., therefore just at the time when this important innovation developed, probably simultaneously in several regions. In the area next to the mill, an arrangement of circular stones (US 787-789) was identified. A comparison can be made with a similar installation found at L’Amastuola and interpreted as the base of a granary. Therefore, the service spaces of the large building seem connected with the transformation of the main products that were fundamental for Mediterranean agriculture: oil, wine, and cereals. At the end of the excavations, the structures were back-filled leaving only the perimeter walls visible. During the 2014 campaign, maintenance work was undertaken on the archaeological area, including the clearance of grass/weeds and new coverings for the more delicate archaeological levels (beaten surface and interior floors).

  • Grazia Semeraro - Università degli Studi del Salento, Dipartimento di Beni Culturali 

Director

Team

  • Assunta Cocchiaro - Soprintendenza archeologica della Puglia
  • Alessandro Monastero - Università degli Studi del Salento

Research Body

  • Università degli Studi del Salento – Dipartimento di Beni Culturali

Funding Body

  • Comune di San Vito dei Normanni

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