Excavations in previous years identified a complex of structures, on top of the hill, interpreted as a “palatial” residence, probably belonging to one of the dominant social groups with important functions in the community settled in the area. The building occupied an area of circa 600 m2 and was characterised by walls with substantial foundations, over 1 m wide. The covered structures seemed to be concentrated in the eastern part, whilst the central and western zones seem to have been occupied by a vast open courtyard. Beyond a large open space where two roads converged, other smaller walled structures were identified, probably houses.
The excavation undertaken in 2005 concentrated on the area of the large building on the hilltop, uncovering the various phases of collapse. The perimeter walls of the foundations were between 70 cm and 1 m wide, whilst those of the dwellings were circa 50 cm wide. This fact demonstrates the structure’s social importance. However, the size parameter is not the only significant element: in fact the walls were built with a parallel double facing of larger blocks placed on edge to reinforce the structure, and various materials were used.
The perimeter and corner walls were made with rectangular blocks, as they were subject to the heavier load of the roof. The internal dividing walls were made entirely of limestone from Altamura, also with a double facing, but with squared blocks on the outside and a core of smaller stones. The study of the collapses showed that the first rows of the standing walls were constituted by squared calcarenite blocks placed on edge and forming a double facing. The rest of the wall was built of blocks squared on the exterior with a core of irregular sized stones.
The discovery of an architectural fragment suggests a decoration with circular antefixes decorated with volutes, which can be compared to Laconian temple decoration, in particular at Laphior or in the temple of Artemis Orthia at Sparta. Furthermore, an imbrex from the eaves with the attachment for an antefix was found. This find further attests the level of development reached by the Messapian craftsmen in the archaic period and the influences from Greek spheres, especially from Taranto. The discovery of two fragments of Black-figure craters and loom weights attests the importance of this building, part of the so-called “palatial complex”, that was not only residential but also had cult and public functions.
- Grazia Semeraro - Università degli Studi del Salento, Dipartimento di Beni Culturali
- Assunta Cocchiaro - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Puglia
- Università degli Studi di Lecce, Dipartimento Beni Culturali
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