Located near the ancient crossroads between the road leading to the chora and the coastal road, Pantanello is one of the most investigated archaeological sites in Metaponto. T

he numerous excavation campaigns conducted by the ICA of the University of Texas, directed by J.C. Carter, since 1975, have revealed the foundations of an extra-urban sanctuary, adjacent to a spring, the remains of a farm, a Neolithic site, an extraordinary necropolis and a late Roman kiln.

The Sanctuary, of which only the foundations are visible, is the only site where the entire colonisation of a chora can be traced between the end of the 7th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC. It consisted of the area dedicated to worship at the spring, delimited by a wall from the temenos (sacred area). The extraordinary material is now on display at the Museum of Metaponto: artefacts, architectural remains, ceramics and organic remains of plants and animals.

In the large rural necropolis of Pantanello 320 burials and 40 ceramic deposits were found.

Among the tombs, the 'musician's tomb' is particularly significant. Among the grave goods it contains is a tortoiseshell carapace, an ideal sounding board for the barbitos, an ancient stringed musical instrument similar to the lyre, and the well-preserved skeleton of an adult, between 40 and 50 years old, who lived in the middle of the 5th century BC, more than 1.75 metres tall, about 20 cm taller than the average for the time. Tall people played important roles in the social context, often holding a sacred role, perhaps within the mystery circles that spread through the region after the arrival of Pythagoras in Metaponto. This is confirmed by the discovery of a group of stone tombs identified as belonging to Orphic, Pythagorean and Dionysian initiates.

In 1978 excavations in the marshy ground near the sanctuary revealed a variety of seeds and plant remains in an exceptionally well-preserved state, thanks to the combination of the constant flow of the spring and the clay matrix of the soil. This discovery made it possible to learn about the cultivated and weed species present in the area from the 1st millennium BC and to draw a significant picture of the colonists' eating habits (based on barley, as confirmed by the well-known coin depicting the ear of corn, the emblem of Metaponto), diseases and customs. This discovery gave rise to a unique interdisciplinary research project conducted by the CNR, Agrobios and the Pantanello Experimental Agricultural Centre.



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