In July 2011, work continued in the area of the burials identified in 2006. The entire area was excavated and a total of eight inhumations were exposed. None of the burials contained grave goods and they had clearly been disturbed by illegal excavators. All of the burials lay directly on the soil, which had been levelled to form the grave floor. In the north-eastern corner, a calcarenite basin was found. It had been cut from a burial and was preserved to three quarters of its original circumference, the type being common in the excavation area. The excavation was extended to the north where it was decided to remove part of a wall US 393, which prevented the investigation of a rectangular room measuring 10 × 2.50 m (including the thickness of the walls). During the excavation of this room an apsidal structure was discovered, half of which preserved as it was cut by a later wall. The apse was preserved to a height of 70 cm and on the back part there were traces of a mosaic of alternating red, blue and white bands. It was clear that the apse was on the same axis as the opening between two thresholds found 16 m away, in the south-western corner of the excavation area. The apse provides clear evidence that this was a small cemetery chapel or basilichetta close by the Sabinian basilica.
The chapel presented several phases, attested by the various types of burial present within it.
At the same time, investigations began in the mausoleum situated south of the basilica (trench VIII). The tomb was formed by a single nave with an apse, attributed by R. Cassano to the basilica’s final phase. In fact, it is situated up against the basilica’s southern apse and its sides lean against the buttresses on this side of the building, attributable to one of the final interventions to restore and consolidate the church following a destructive event, perhaps an earthquake. It would seem that this small apsidal tomb attracted other burials, attested by the high concentration, in particular in the ambulatory and the southern apse of the basilica. The dimensions of this tomb (9.50 × 7 m including the walls) are similar to those of the monument found in trench IV. This comparison highlights the orderly arrangement of the burials in the latter, with respect to the scattered arrangement around the basilica.
Inside there was a burial containing three individuals (2 adults and a child) and an open annular brooch with a free tongue and facing animal heads at the ends. On the rod was an acclamatory inscription +Lupu biba (viva Lupo). The artifact is of late Roman tradition and quite frequent in 6th-7th century funerary contexts in southern Italy, above all in Apulia and Basilicata. Consequently, in the absence of other elements, this object is not indicative of the ethnicity of the deceased. Further excavation in this area is necessary, as the investigations were interrupted at a superficial level that did not permit a more precise identification of the structure.
- Vincenzo Graffeo - “Sapienza” Università di Roma
- Patrizio Pensabene - Sapienza Università di Roma
- Bruno Vivino - Sapienza Università di Roma
- "Sapienza" Università di Roma
- Comune di Canosa di Puglia
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