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  • Terravecchia
  • Terravecchia
  •  
  • Italy
  • Molise
  • Provincia di Campobasso
  • Sepino

Credits

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Monuments

Periods

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Chronology

  • 400 BC - 1600 AD

Season

    • The first excavation campaign at Terravecchia di Sepino investigated one of the gates in the curtain wall, denominated Porta dell’Acropoli. On a west-north-west alignment, the gate, identified by Giovanni Colonna in 1961 during a survey, and partially excavated in 1963 by Adriano La Regina, was not visible as deep deposits of earth, detritus, and vegetation had obliterated it. Although the excavations only lasted for 10 days, the entire gate was exposed, together with the access corridor created in the thickness of the wall and a substantial stretch of the polygonal curtain wall on either side. The entire plan of the structure was revealed and the elevation was surveyed and documented. The few finds covered a wide chronology, from black gloss to medieval proto-majolica pottery. Immediately inside the wall, the excavation exposed a small religious complex (first noted in 1961 by Colonna). The church had a single nave and raised semicircular apse, accessed by steps. A small area of the original paving of large stone slabs was still in situ. Most of the slabs were found stacked one against the other leaning on the internal facing of the north wall. Some sections of the walls were preserved to a substantial height. They were built mainly of small stones with some middle-sized ones, bonded into neat courses. In particular, the south wall functioned as the facing for a stretch of quarry face, with the aim of hiding the surface and regulating the uneven section. The east-facing entrance had large parallelepiped jambs, and a linear threshold, which presented the housings for the hinges of a double door. Immediately outside, the excavation uncovered a number of voussoirs from the arch of the portal. The church was planned and the elevations partially documented. Numerous and important, although minute, fragments of coloured figured wall plaster were recovered.
    • This season a number of trenches were opened a short distance from each other. Following deforestation and clearance operations undertaken to expose a stretch of the megalithic walls of the southern side of the curtain facing the Matese mountain, attention was concentrated on the gates in this side: the ‘Postierla del Matese’ and the ‘Porta Medioevale’. In both cases the structures were surveyed and recorded, in the first case using a laser scanner and UAV, in the second case using direct recording which was then checked by laser scanning and photogrammetry. The use of UAV technology made it possible to make a complete graphic reproduction of the long stretch of ancient wall, highlighting its line, overall construction technique and the accurate and careful preparation and positioning of the stones. The same can be said of the medieval walls abutting the internal face of the ancient wall. These walls ran towards the hill summit on a north-south alignment and were joined by a series of narrower walls at right angles. It is suggested that they define a series of rooms arranged in a row and sharing the same rear wall, but further excavation will have to be carried out in order to confirm this. The second trench was put in on the south side of the so-called turret. Excavation was undertaken here as this is the summit area, in other words an area that was probably an acropolis in antiquity and still a public zone in the medieval period. The turret is known in literature; however the few previous studies lack a adequate plan and elevation drawings at a useful scale. Moreover, the 2013 excavation revealed new evidence regarding its construction and the system anchoring it to the terrain. This new evidence suggests that this structure was not, as thought until now, a public reception structure and watch tower. At the south front of the turret and on the summit area the excavation revealed a series of walls and rooms whose size and double wall thickness, on at least two sides, suggests they were public buildings. A trench situated to the west of the turret exposed what appeared to be the perimeter walls of a modest house. Excavation and digital recording to integrate what was begun in 2012, was undertaken inside the church of S. Martino located on the far western edge of the hill summit, just inside the Porta dell’Acropoli that opens in the ancient walls. (Maurizio Matteini Chiari - Valeria Scocca)
    • In 2014, new excavations took place inside and outside the church of S. Martino situated on the edge of the high ground towards the west, just inside the Porta dell’Acropoli that opens in the ancient walls. The nave was completely exposed, the floor area being cleared of the numerous structural and architectural components abutting the curtain wall downhill. Patches of the original paved floor were revealed in addition to more extensive areas of the make-up levels of mortar mixed with minute fragments of inert materials. The documentation and survey of a substantial part of the structural and architectural elements of the complex was completed, in practice the 230 that were removed to expose the floor. Of these, 187 were individually documented in an extremely detailed manner with the aim of creating a textured 3D model at 1:1. The final objective is to create a virtual reconstruction of the church but is also functional to the correct re-composition and placing _in_ _situ_ of most of the original components. At the same time, the original perimeter walls were exposed by freeing them of the chaotic piles of stones resulting from hasty excavations undertaken last century. This resulted in a new configuration and dimensions of the walls and a new and definitive plan of the entire complex, of which a photogrammetry survey was also made. The area outside the church and the quarry front up against which the church is built were freed of vegetation in order to recreate an environment coherent with the original setting of the structure. Work was also undertaken on the south front of the medieval town wall. A long stretch of the wall and a projecting round tower were uncovered, structures that are usually ignored by literature and only known from a controversial and inaccurate cartography. The wall is narrow and built with a double facing of small limestone blocks bonded with mortar in the stretch west of the wall. On the other side of the tower, the construction technique is the same but the wall bends noticeably towards the east-south-east. At its centre, the tower projects from the walls and may relate to the presence of an entrance, although not identified by the excavation, according to what has been documented in the northern section of the wall. The tower was connected to the walled structures behind it by a structure with a distinctive polygonal plan, perhaps to create a solid link with the service rooms and to guarantee rapid access to the tower from the interior of the settlement. To the rear of the town wall there was an intricate network of residential structures. The walls had double facings, similar to the technique used for the curtain wall, and formed very small rooms with regular plans which cut the terrain so as to form a series of terraced levels.

Bibliography

    • M. Bernardi, 2002, Un nucleo di invetriata dipinta da Terravecchia di Sepino (CB): la ceramica “RMR”, in “Archeologia Medievale”, XXIX: 489-499.
    • M. Bernardi, P. Comodi, P. F. Zanazzi, 2003, Ceramica a vetrina piombifera e smalto stannifero nei centri di Saepinum e Terravecchia (Campobasso): un confronto tra dati archeologici e archeometrici, in Atti del III Congresso Nazionale di Archeologia Medievale, Salerno 2 - 5 Ottobre 2003, Firenze: 90-97.
    • M. Matteini Chiari, 2004, Saepinum tra evo antico e medioevo. Nuove preliminari acquisizioni dal cantiere di scavo di San Pietro di Cantoni di Sepino, in Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi “I Beni Culturali del Molise. Il Medioevo”, Campobasso 18 - 20 Novembre 1999, Campobasso: 184-198.
    • M. Bernardi, 2004, La protomaiolica da Saepinum (Altilia). Primi risultati, in Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi “I Beni Culturali del Molise. Il Medioevo”, Campobasso 18 - 20 Novembre 1999, Campobasso: 199-209 e tavv. f.t. IX-XI.
    • A. Finetti, 2004, Alcune considerazioni sulla circolazione della moneta piccola in territorio molisano tra XIII e XIV secolo alla luce dei recenti rinvenimenti, in Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi “I Beni Culturali del Molise. Il Medioevo”, Campobasso 18 - 20 Novembre 1999, Campobasso: 210-214 e tav. f.t. XII.
    • AA.VV., La Dea, il Santo, una Terra. Materiali dallo scavo di San Pietro di Cantoni di Sepino, Catalogo della Mostra, Altilia 2003 (a cura di M. Matteini Chiari), Roma.
    • AA.VV., La Dea dei canneti fruscianti. Venti anni di scavo a San Pietro di Cantoni di Sepino, Catalogo della Mostra, Altilia – Sepino, (a cura di M. Matteini Chiari-V. Scocca)