The Grotta della Monaca is a natural cavity which opens in the dolomitic limestone of the Trias. It is formed by three separate morphological macro-sectors: a large entrance corridor (3-4m high) with klastic deposits on the floor; a vast central cavern (the so-called “Hall of the Bats”, 60×30m, 6m high) which slopes down towards the rear of the cafe; a series of long, narrow terminal cunicoli, impassable by man.
In 2005, the investigationsl, underway since 2000, concentrated in two sectors in front of the cave, at the entrance, denominated “S6” and “m0”. The first uncovered an extensive ledge for mineral extraction adhering to the left hand rock face. The marks made by metal picks, visible on the residual mineral deposit of iron (goethite), attest extraction activity in the post-medieval period. An occupation level was reached, which the pottery finds date to the middle Bronze Age.
The typology of vases found, the faunal remains (_ovis vel capra_) and the condition of the sedimentary deposits (presence of so-called “cake deposits”) suggest that this place was used for stabling animals. The presence of handmade pottery decorated with red bands confirmed the Neolithic occupation. In the same area, in front of the entrance, a small underground conduit, “m0”, was explored. This was a small secondary offshoot positioned on the right of the main corridor of the underground system and Eneolithic pottery, grindstones, punches and spatulas were found here.
Several exploratory soundings were made into the hall of the “Terminal cuniculi”, in the deepest part of the cavern. The pottery recovered indicates a dating horizon between the early Eneolithic and the middle Bronze Age. (MiBAC)
- Silvana Luppino - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Calabria
- Andrea Geniola - Università degli Studi di Bari, Dipartimento di Beni Culturali e Scienze del Linguaggio della Sezione di Paletnologia
- Università degli Studi di Bari, Dipartimento di Beni Culturali e Scienze del Linguaggio della Sezione di Paletnologia – Consorzio Universitario Laboratorio Centro Aerofotografico
- Assessorato Provinciale alla Cultura e Pubblica Istruzione (Cosenza)
- Assessorato Regionale alla Cultura e Pubblica Istruzione (Catanzaro)
- Comune di S. Agata di Esaro
- Comunità Montana”Unione delle Valli” (Malvisto – Cs)
- Ente Parco Nazionale del Pollino
- Università degli Studi di Bari, Dipartimento di Studi Classici e Cristiani
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