Excavations in the cemetery area of the Greek colony of Herakleia have revealed two nuclei, each comprising 35 burials. Both date to between the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C. and form part of the city’s large southern necropolis.
The funerary structures consist of inhumations covered with flat or curved tiles or by semi-curved, overlapping tiles forming a “concertina” covering. The remains of burnt bones were found, placed on one of the burials, relative to an ustrinum. Other structures brick built were “a cappuccina“or “a bottino” (with semicircular tiles placed side by side). Square “casse” built of flat tiles were also present and sandstone “casse” were also common. Cremations were also present, placed in hydria deposited within a “pozzetto” surrounded by semicircular, terracotta well-curbs, or within amphorae.
The richest burials are those of infants, containing miniature black glaze vessels and basins (baby feeder, cups, lekythoi, skyphoi, unguentaria). The adult burials contained the same black glaze forms (oenochoi, small jugs or pelike) and lekythoi with Red-figure or reticulate decoration. In two burials there were traces of funerary crowns made of bronze wires terminating in gilded, bronze oak leaves and terracotta corymbs (clusters of flowers). In several burials, including those of infants, a bronze or silver coin had been placed in the deceased’s mouth. Few personal ornaments were found (silver earrings, ivory scarabs and bronze rings). Of particular interest is a tomb dating to the 2nd century B.C. which together with the pottery assemblage contained four silver astragals (small decorative mouldings) and what is probably the handle from a fan, embossed with foliate motifs. Two burials contained small bronze mirrors. Occasionally the tomb groups was completed by terracotta figurines of female deities. (Maria Luisa Nava)
- Salvatore Bianco - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Basilicata
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