• Fondo Casino
  • Cavallino
  • Italy
  • Apulia
  • Provincia di Lecce
  • Cavallino


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  • No period data has been added yet


  • 800 BC - 450 BC


    • The investigation in 2005 was undertaken in areas Fondo Casino and Fondo Casino 1. In the area of Fondo Casino work continued on the residential quarter that had been uncovered in previous years. The area of the building which partially covered the large road to the east with cobble paving was investigated. This building was formed by two rectangular spaces on an east-west alignment. The space to the north may be interpreted as a porticoed area that functioned as an entrance to the second space. The latter was larger and covered by a roof of semi-curved tiles, its north, west and south walls were well preserved. Below a collapse was an abandonment layer covering the floor, formed on the south side of the room by bedrock and on the north side by a surface of compact beaten earth and crushed tufa. Lying on the floor were numerous pottery fragments including an impasto pithoide vase. Along the northern back wall of the room was a hearth surrounded by a low wall of stones placed in a semicircle up against the wall. The building partly covered the paving of the road, therefore it must have been constructed during the last phase of the settlement’s life (first half of the 5th century B.C.) or following the abandonment of the city, and could be identified as a rural structure relating to occupation of the area after the mid 5th century B.C. abandonment. Exploration of the area of Fondo Casino 1, near the “Museo Diffuso di Cavallino”, brought to light a large building with several occupation phases. Towards the mid 6th century B.C. a first structure was built, with three large rooms and a large courtyard. The foundations were made of stone blocks of exceptional size, some almost three metres long. The walls were made of small stones and the roof of semi-curved tiles. The main room, with a well made floor of compacted crushed tufa, seems to have been the house’s reception room. In the second phase a large portico was built in front of the main room. This obliterated an earlier and smaller room. In the main room the entrance threshold was moved and a new door-hinge was put in; the crushed tufa paving was cut for the insertion of large containers for dry goods. The room had clearly changed function, becoming a storage space. New walls were added and two large courtyards were built in the northern part of the structure, where a number of hearths were put in. These were later partially cut by the insertion of an infant burial. In the last phase the building was dismantled, but the area was still used. A roof supported by wooden posts was built, the post-holes visible in the crushed tufa floor, to cover a rectangular hole faced with limestone slabs, perhaps a cult or funerary structure. In the area of the building a large pit was also found, filled with material recovered in large part from the demolition of the complex. The pottery present dates the structure to the 4th-3rd century B.C., the result of the reorganisation of the area for agricultural purposes in the Hellenistic period. Other structures emerged below the archaic building: a single roomed structure with a square plan roofed with plant materials, given the total absence of clay tiles below the collapse of the walls. The materials recovered date the building’s abandonment to the end of the 7th-beginning of the 6th century B.C. and suggest that it was a small 7th century B.C. oikos. This is the first evidence of the passage from Iron Age settlement, with oval huts covered with straw and mud, to archaic settlement with square structures having foundations of large squared blocks, walls of small stones and tile roofs. The area investigated in 2006 revealed a series of structures (mainly foundations) relating to the archaic settlement (7th-6th century B.C.) and the earlier Iron Age hut village.
    • In the south-eastern zone of Fondo Casino a road with a cobbled surface was uncovered for a length of circa 70 m. The structure, on a north-south alignment, was the continuation of another known road which was characterized by a wide channel for rainwater drainage. The road was flanked to the west by two large enclosures probably were used as animal shelters, of which the foundations of large squared limestone blocks were preserved. The excavation of building G1 was completed. On the western side a small votive deposit was found, comprising a small single-handled black glaze cup, of local production or from Taranto, and an Attic lamp, both datable to between 500 and 480 B.C. The deposition of these objects suggests a ritual that was probably carried out when the building was restructured. The libation vessel (cup) and the lamp (both used in the domestic sphere and in the cult of the female divinities, protectors of fertility) indicate a request for protection for the household. Only the abandonment layers were removed from buildings G2, G3, G4, G5, G6 and G7. The materials recovered confirmed that the entire quarter had been abandoned in around 460 B.C. As part of the project to enlarge the “Museo Diffuso” at Cavallino excavation continued of the north and south ditches relating to the town’s west gate along the fortifications in the area of Fondo Maratunde. Here the great fortification wall is being reconstructed using collapsed stone from within the ditches themselves.The discovery of the paving of the road leading into the town made it possible to place the gate in its exact position. The large blocks forming the fortification itself were found inside the ditches. On the bottom of the southern ditch an extraordinary iron pick was found, perfectly preserved, which must have been one of the tools used for quarrying the blocks themselves. A fragment of a full relief sculpture made of local limestone was also found, representing the head of an animal, perhaps a snake or a very stylised bird. A fragment of limestone cippus was recovered from the upper part of the collapse. It bore the same letters, BAL…, as the cippus found in the same area of the excavation in the 1980s.
    • In the area of Fondo Casino excavation continued in the residential quarter. Work concentrated on the area of building I1, which partially covered the east road. Investigations continued inside the portico area with the excavation of the collapse below which a yellowish layer came to light relating to the occupation level of the building. A threshold was exposed in wall 458 which had been closed with limestone blocks and wedges of the same material.This operation seemed to have taken place at the moment when wall 459 was constructed and the cobbled surface of the adjacent road was created, thus in the early phase the building did not have the porticoed area on the north side but faced directly onto an open space or a road. South of the new room, to the exterior, a beaten floor surface of crushed tufina was uncovered. In the new room, the removal of the collapse of stones from the walls revealed a collapse of roof tiles. This was fully documented and then removed. Below the first layer of tiles there was a second layer of collapse which overlay a floor of beaten earth mixed with crushed tufa. In front of building I1 a trench was dug in the road onto which it faced. Below the cobbled surface of the final phase of use a substantial beaten surface of tufa, tile, pottery and stone fragments was exposed. This was the earlier road surface. In the area of Fondo Casino 1, close to the entrance to the “Museo Diffuso”, exploration of the large building (H1) with its various occupation phases continued, as did investigation of the oikos H2. Following accurate cleaning of the area several sectors of building H1 were the object of closer examination. The external area east of the building was investigated. Three large pits were identified and excavated. They were full of tile which must have resulted from the cleaning of the area towards the end of the 4th century B.C., as attested by the pottery found with the tile. The collapses from this building were levelled, probably in order to render the terrain suitable for agriculture. Also to the east of the building a large courtyard paved with crushed tufina, gravel and limestone fragments was exposed. It covered a vast area surrounded by low walls built of small limestone blocks. This was part of the last occupation phase and was situated in front of the large portico which led into the interior of the house. The excavation area of the stone quarry situated to the east of building H1, already partially dug, was considerably enlarged. The trench was extended to the west in order to ascertain the overall length of the quarry which will be gradually emptied during the next excavation campaigns. The area of oikos H2 was extended to the north and this exposed the remains of a new room perhaps an adjoining oikos, given the similar construction technique. Inside oikos H2 a well preserved crushed tufa floor was exposed. As well as the cooking stand uncovered the previous year a hearth was found in the structure’s north-eastern corner.
    • Excavations continued in the area of Fondo Casino on the residential quarter uncovered in previous years. Work concentrated in the area of building I1, which faced onto the wide east road paved with cobbles. The building was formed by two rectangular rooms on an east-west alignment. The room to the north can probably be interpreted as a porticoed area which led into the second, larger, room covered by a roof of semi-curved tiles. The north, west and south walls of this room were well preserved, whilst the eastern side of the building had been largely demolished by agricultural activities. In the area to the west a third room came to light, its walls at a slight angle to the closing wall of the structure’s main room. Further excavation east of building I1 revealed that the terrain had been heavily disturbed by agricultural work. This had cut the stratigraphy down to the occupation level of the Iron Age hut village, of which the remains of a baked earth hearth were uncovered. In the area of Fondo Casino 1, close to the entrance to the “Museo Diffuso”, exploration of the large building H1 continued. Inside room 1 excavation continued of the deepest layers, those relating to an Iron Age hut of which only a stretch of a semi-circular wall and related floor levels remained. To the west of room 1 of building H1, a trench (2 x 5 m) was dug in an area where earlier campaigns had exposed a large courtyard paved with tufina mixed with gravel, belonging to the final occupation phase. The trench was placed in an area where the floors were badly preserved with the aim of investigating the earlier occupation phases. Below the remains of the structure a series of floor levels came to light relating to the preceding occupation phases of building H1. The data collected suggests that the area had always functioned as a large enclosed open-air courtyard, which protected the entrance to the building. Further, the excavation area of the stone quarry situated to the east of building H1, already partially dug, was extended. The steps formed by the removed blocks were completely exposed revealing traces of the quarrying process on the walls and showing the use of various tools for the working and quarrying of the stone blocks (picks, chisels, gradine, wedges). The excavation of the quarry area was then extended to the west and the quarry itself was completely emptied.
    • As part of the Progetto di Ampliamento del _Museo Diffuso di Cavallino_, presented by the local authorities and financed by the _Regione Puglia_ with the remaining P.O.R 2000-2007 funds, an intense campaign of archaeological investigations was undertaken on the Messapian settlement of Cavallino. This work was carried out under concession from Mibac by the University of Salento. From October 2009 to the end of July 2010 excavation and restorations were underken in various areas within the archaic defensive walls. In July 2010 a teaching excavation took place ( _Cantiere Scuola di Archeologia dell’Università del Salento_) with the participation of 96 students from various Italian and foreign universities (Salento, Rome, Bologna, Austria, Spain). In the area of Fondo Casino (Zones G and I), situated at the entrance to the open-air museum, the existing excavation area was extended. An area of about 2.000 m2 was excavated down to the abandonment levels of the archaic town. Three new large dwellings were identified (buildings L, M and N) which overlooked a system of roads permitting movement around the ancient quarter. The large Road V, on a north-south line, already investigated in previous years, was excavated down to the earliest paved levels. It was overlain by a complex system including a wide sidewalk on the western side and a central surface channel to allow rainwater to run off. The entrance of one of the new houses opened onto the road. The building was preceded by a large area, partially roofed, which must have been used as an animal enclosure and for carts and other agricultural equipment. The house had an elongated rectangular plan. The residential rooms had a portico to the front, the collapsed roof of which was uncovered. Secondary roads, overlooked by other buildings, branched off of the main one. Part of the limestone foundation blocks from the excavated walls were restored. In the area of Fondo Fico (Zone F) the area of the 1960s excavations, which lay in very bad condition, was cleaned and restored. In fact, the walls uncovered about 40 years ago were badly deteriorated. Many of the walls, which were on narrow baulks, were collapsing and thus compromising the reading of the overall situation. Following a careful study of the various construction phases (three occupation phases relating to the archaic settlement were identified) the collapsed walls together with the related occupation levels were restored. As part of the investigation some areas that had remained unexcavated were looked at which led to a re-reading of all of the occupation phases in the area from the Bronze Age until the town’s abandonment at the beginning of the 5th century B.C. A large bell-shaped cistern and two infant burials (one containing two skeletons) dating to the archaic period, and part of the craft-working area of the Iron Age village (the remains of two covered cooking stands with circular plan) were also excavated. In the area north of the museum part of the north-east gate’s structure was restored. In front of this stand the Torre di Zeus and the iron silhouettes of the Messapian warriors by Ferruccio Zilli. A substantial amount of maintenance work on the museum structures was also undertaken (restoration of the wooden walkways across the excavation areas, cleaning and repair of information panels, re-paving of pathways). The lighting system was also repaired and a new series of spotlights was put into place to illuminate the large excavation areas and the great 18th century wall on the east side of Fondo Casino.
    • A total of 2000 m2 of terrain was investigated with the aim of exposing the abandonment phases of the archaic settlement. In zone G, west of road V, three new large residential structures were identified (buildings G8, G9 and G10), facing on to the road system (roads XVI and XVII) of the ancient quarter. The large road V, on a north-south alignment, excavated in previous years, was excavated down to the earliest paving levels. Above it was a complex structure constituted by a wide sidewalk on the west side and at the centre, a surface-level channel for rainwater drainage. The entrance to one of the houses (G8) opened onto the west side of the road. The entrance, of which part of the threshold was preserved, had a monumental appearance and was framed by two substantial walls with foundations of large limestone blocks. Immediately north of the structure a stone sarcophagus containing an infant’s skeleton was excavated, datable to the end of the 6th century B.C. The skeleton lay on one side in a fetal position, the head resting on a cushion carved into the stone of the sarcophagus itself. The tomb contained a small jug and a cup. At the front of the residential building was a large, partially roofed, area (A), probably used to house animals (area N), and for keeping carts and agricultural implements. The house formed an elongated rectangle. The residential rooms (C and D) were preceded by a porticoed area (B) whose collapsed roof was found perfectly preserved. Two secondary roads (roads XVI and XVII) branched off from the main road onto which other buildings (G9 and G10) faced, however, for the moment their precise planimetry cannot be defined. Zone I developed to the east of road V. Here, work concentrated on building I1, formed by two rectangular rooms on an east-west alignment. The room to the north was probably a porticoed area forming the entrance to the second, larger room covered by a roof of impreces. The occupation level was found below the collapse. The excavation showed that in the first phase the building did not have the portico on the north side but faced directly onto an open area. The excavation was extended towards the south and north, revealing a new room with walls that were slightly oblique with respect to the western wall of the building’s main room. The perfectly- preserved collapse of the walls was completely excavated. South of the new room was a beaten floor surface of crushed tufa, representing an external occupation level. The deeper excavations to the east of building I1 exposed occupation levels relating to the Iron Age hut village, and the remains of baked clay hearths. In the new room, the removal of the collapsed stones from the walls revealed the collapsed roof tiles and below, the occupation level formed by a floor surface of beaten earth mixed with crushed tufa.
    • In July 2012, the University of Salento held its archaeological field school in which Italian and Austrian students participated. In the area of Fondo Casino (Zones G and I), situated near the museum entrance, investigations continued in the residential quarter uncovered during previous seasons, concentrating on room B of building G8 and the area west of building G4. The collapse of the roof of porticoed room B was completely removed. The tiles were recovered in order to be restored and then put back into place as part of the project to open the site to visitors. The last layers were recorded, as in the previous year, by dividing the area into one-metre squares and with the use of digital photography. Below the collapse lay a floor surface (3079) composed of a layer of gravel mixed with crushed tufa, which was best preserved at the centre of the room. Some tens of metres to the east, outside building 11, the intact tomb of a male child (3082) was excavated, comprising a monolithic stone sarcophagus covered by two overlapping limestone slabs. It contained very few osteological remains (a few cranium fragments), probably due to the soil’s chemical composition and also the inhumation of a newborn baby. The tomb group comprised a small single handled cup and a miniature jug, together with two bronze _fibulae_. The burial dates to the second half of the 6th century B.C. The sarcophagus was left _in situ_, while the cover slabs were removed. Surface cleaning was undertaken on an area of about 100 m2, situated west of building G4, exposing walls and collapsed material which will be investigated during the next campaign.mIn the area of Fondo Casino I, zone H, investigations continued in the area north of _oikos_ H2, a house occupied in the second half of the 7th century B.C. Quadrants P14 and R14 were examined. A structure of elongated stones emerged in R14, probably relating to a collapsed wall from a house of the same date. The structure, probably dragged down by ploughing, will be investigated in coming seasons. The remains of walls relating to 6th century houses constructed in stone blocks (badly preserved) came to light in quadrant P14. In this case also, the structures were only exposed and will be excavated during future campaigns.
    • Work continued on the excavation of a residential quarter in zones G and I, in particular buildings G8 and G7. Building G8 was a large structure with a courtyard in the front and attached enclosures for animals. The property was entered through a monumental entrance on the west side of Road V. From here a great courtyard with porticoed roof was entered from the south (room A), while to the north there was a vast open area, probably an animal enclosure. In the courtyard area (room A), the collapse of a perfectly preserved tile roof was fully uncovered. The great courtyard faced onto the residential part of the building. A long rectangular room was identified as a portico (rooms B-B1), roofed with tiles. On the south side, the roof was found collapsed intact onto the floor levels. The two rooms C and D, which formed the centre of the house, could be accessed from Portico B. These rooms were excavated down to the floor levels (beaten earth mixed with crushed tufa) and were seen to have been heavily damaged by agricultural activity that had also destroyed the perimeter walls on the west side. A square courtyard (room E) with the remains of housings for posts was uncovered on the north side of room D. In the area of the large animal enclosure a number of quadrants were excavated down to the latest floor level. There was a large sub-oval hole at the centre filled with stones of different sizes. This was probably the result of clearing in the area in order to make the terrain suitable for agriculture, following the town’s abandonment (4th century B.C.). A second building was investigated that was situated north of building G8 facing east onto the enclosure area. It is not clear whether this was a separate structure or a part of the same property. It was made up of two elongated rectangular rooms (A and B). The entrance must have been on the east side. A votive deposit with a double-nozzled lamp placed upside down on the ground was uncovered in the south corner of room A. The lamp dates to the second half of the 6th century B.C. Three intact infant burials inside impasto _pithoi_ were found next to the outer perimeter walls of the two buildings. Two were placed one inside the other (those west of building G7) and contained only a few cranium fragments. No grave goods were present. The vessel type and find context date the burials to the second half of the 6th century B.C.
    • The 2015 and 2016 excavations in the area of the _Museo_ _Diffuso_ were undertaken as part of the University of Salento’s archaeology field school. In the area of Fondo Casino (Zone G), situated at the entrance to the _Museo_ _Diffuso_, investigations continued in the residential quarter, in particular building G10, which was uncovered during earlier campaigns. Building G was a large structure comprising several rooms facing onto a large road. The excavation was extended on the west side of the area exposing two new rooms, in which the wall collapses were preserved, datable to the early 5th century B.C. The collapse in room A, identified in 2014, was completely removed, below which lay a floor surface of crushed tufa and beaten earth. North of building G8, excavations continued in an area where the remains of a hut relating to the Iron Age settlement (8th – 7th century B.C.) had emerged. The hut was oval in plan and c. 10 m in diameter. The remains of the perimeter wall foundation, a base of small stones, were also found in the southern part of the hut, although in a worse state of preservation. Inside the hut, structures dividing the functional spaces were identified, together with the remains of materials used during the structure’s everyday life (fragments of millstones, cooking stands, pottery, ornaments). In the area of Fondo Pera, the excavation continued of a large building (C1) in which two circular kilns were inserted. In the area north of building C1, a modern dry-stone wall was dismantled making it possible to uncover an area where a large accumulation of stones was present, probably resulting from the collapse of the walls forming part of a room. At the centre of the area, the stones formed a circular structure and perhaps covered a cistern mouth. Two perfectly smoothed large limestone blocks closed the area towards building C1. Inside building C1 the smaller kiln was excavated, situated in correspondence with the change in level between the area of Fondo Pera and that of Fondo Sentina and della Cupa. Part of the kiln’s collapsed dome, together with a few tile and pottery fragments, were found inside the structure. The pottery dates the kiln’s abandonment to the late 6th century B.C. The kiln had a circular plan with an elongated _praefurnium_ oriented NW-SE. It was built with a low wall of medium-sized stones, a layer of unbaked clay had been applied to the interior by hand (finger marks were visible). The clay was then baked by the kiln’s heat and so preserved. At the centre of the firing chamber, there was a small pillar built of small limestone blocks that must have supported the domed cover; this was also plastered with clay (partially preserved). There were no traces of a perforated firing floor. The vessels to be fired must have been placed directly on the bottom of the structure. The traces of burning stopped at the entrance to the _praefurnium_ where the wood for heating the structure must have been placed.


    • F. D’Andria (ed.), 2005, Cavallino. Pietre, case e città della messapia arcaica, Ceglie Messapica Taras.