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Hellenistic era grave unearthed in Bitonto, Apulia

The grave of a woman lying on her back, her hands on her stomach, and the remains of another person placed at her feet, who had passed away a few years before her. Surrounding them, for their "eternity", wine cups and objects of "inestimable" value due to their perfect state of preservation and dating back - according to the initial estimates - to over 2,300 years ago. The burial discovered in the southern Italian town of Bitonto (Apulia) is of such value that the voice of the interim superintendent, architect Maria Piccarreta, is filled with emotion. 'It is of enormous value from a scientific point of view,' she explains, 'and there was a complete set of grave goods in the tomb, and it was intact, no one had had access to it until now."

Hellenistic era grave unearthed in Bitonto, Apulia
Credit: La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno

The ABAP - Soprintendenza of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the Metropolitan City of Bari - explains that it had coordinated the excavation during its supervision of the redevelopment of Piazza Caduti del Terrorismo by the municipal administration: 'During the investigation, an intact funerary structure of great cultural value was identified and brought to light along the southern edge of the square. The pit-shaped grave, entirely carved into the rocky bank and partially levelled by blocks of local stone arranged in a single row, was covered by large limestone slabs and lined internally with calcarenite blocks and tiles. The structure contained the remains of two individuals buried at different times and a few years apart. The more recent one had been laid supine with hands on the stomach. Initial findings made during the excavation of the skeletal remains suggest that it was a woman, to make room for whom, at the time of the deposition, the bone remains of the first recipient of the tomb were collected and placed near the feet of the deceased".

Hellenistic era grave unearthed in Bitonto, Apulia
Credit: La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno

The Soprintendenza continues, "The depositions were accompanied by a funerary set of great value, consisting of discoloured vases that allude to the consumption of wine: a volute krater - extraordinary for its size and state of preservation - fitted with a removable foot and lid, an oinochoe and a kantharos, used respectively to contain, pour and drink wine. The grave goods were found complete, as the tomb had never been disturbed. The grave goods included a pseudo-pyxis surmounted by a delicate kneeling female figure, a fragmentary plate, which was also discoloured, and a loom weight. On the basis of preliminary observations, the funerary structure and its extraordinary trousseau 'would appear to date from the Hellenistic period (3rd century BC)."

Hellenistic era grave unearthed in Bitonto, Apulia
Credit: La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno

Once the studies are complete," explains the Superintendency, "the finds will be presented in an exhibition that will contribute to the reconstruction of Bitonto's most ancient history. 

Credit: La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno [trsl. TANN, May 07; Originally posted April 22, 2021]

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