An oil company from the Roman era: here is the new treasure on the Via Appia

twelve o’clock, March 6, 2021 – 12:58

Sensational archaeological discovery in Taranto near the construction site of the new hospital: the ASL finances the excavations

of Francesco Mazzotta

Charpoons on the ground, a group of professionals carefully brush ancient remains buried by time. The spring air. In the background, behind large mounds produced by major excavations, four cranes from a large construction site stand out. On this side of the barricade, Severino Dell’Aglio shows the results of other excavations. His. It is a large Roman-era productive settlement, he says. Dell’Aglio the archaeologist in charge of unearthing these remote vestiges by the director general of the ASL of Taranto, Stefano Rossi. Nothing strange, because the settlement emerged on the edge of the area in which the new San Cataldo hospital is being built, near the Statale 7, on the new route connecting the capital with San Giorgio Jonico. An area of ​​26 hectares which had been reported to be at archaeological risk and which, for this reason, the Superintendency had probed with 46 trenches of two hundred meters. Where the hospital emerged, the preventive investigation had revealed only the presence of some tombs, which had already been extensively looted. Therefore, nothing that could block the works, once the tombs have been freed. The funeral kits will be part of an ad hoc exhibition with other finds found in the area, explains Laura Masiello, an official of the Superintendency for a few months led by Barbara Davidde who, in addition to heading the first superintendence of underwater heritage in Italy, in the Ionian capital has also assumed responsibility for archaeological, architectural and historical-artistic heritage.

It had to produce oil and wine in large quantities

But the biggest discovery, which is completely accidental, happened later. There was a need to move a pipeline to irrigate the countryside, in the southeast corner of the hospital lot. And suddenly, the surprise: the discovery of a vast Roman settlement from the II-III century AD, which belonged to an important landowner. It had to produce oil and wine in large quantities, explains Dell’Aglio, who is also investigating the intended use of the previous settlement of the Magna Graecia era, on which the Romans then built. There are six bases of six Hellenic columns to certify their existence. Up to now only the farm has emerged from the land, with the food storage areas, the press area and about twenty dolia, large spherical terracotta containers. Further excavations will be needed to unearth the domus, the owners’ villa which, in all probability, is located in an adjacent area. But it will also take a further commitment from the Local Health Authority, which has already taken on the task of enhancing the area concerned so far in the absence of an executive project by the Superintendency. The idea of ​​making it an archaeological park, perhaps accessible directly from San Cataldo, and of creating a gallery of finds inside the hospital, explains Dell’Aglio while showing the progress of the work with Laura Masiello, the topographer Andrea Pedone and Michele Cuccovillo, the technical director of the De Marco company in Bari who was awarded the contract.

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The archaeological excavations near the hospital construction site
A piece of the Appian Way also re-emerges

Five hundred meters further on, near the Masseria San Paolo, an important artery has also re-emerged: a road 14 meters wide. Given its size, it is possible that it is a piece of Via Appia, also due to the fact that it is aligned with another segment that resurfaced in 2012 near the Masseria Raho. On the other hand, such an important farm must necessarily have been built close to a road of great connection, explains Dell’Aglio, who a few months ago showed the discovery to Simone Quilici, director of the Appia Antica Park. There is to investigate. But not excluding an inclusion of the site in theAppian Queen Viarum, the Mibact project dedicated to the paths along the ancient Roman road.

March 6, 2021 | 12:58

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