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  • Vagnari
  • Gravina in Puglia
  • Italy
  • Apulia
  • Bari
  • Gravina in Puglia



  • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

    MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

    ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

    AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

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Summary (English)

  • VAGNARI – Vicus

    Excavations conducted since 2012 in the vicus at Vagnari continued in the summer of 2016. Work concentrated on the eastern side of a substantial stone-built structure partially excavated in 2015 in which a cella vinaria was preserved. This wine storage area did not continue further east, as we expected, but it is now clear that the room housing the large pitch-lined ceramic wine vats (dolia defossa) had a north-south orientation, and it is to the north and south of the area excavated in 2015 that we expect to clarify the extent of this facility.

    In 2016, the physical evidence retrieved allowed us to fill important gaps in the occupation history at Vagnari, both for the period prior to the establishment of the imperial estate and for the earliest period of Roman settlement. The most exciting discovery was a building that predates any structure found thus far in the vicus. The pottery, loom weights, ceramic oil lamps, and iron implements that were retrieved from a circular storage pit in this building can be dated to the Hellenistic period, to the 2nd century B.C. at the latest. This building continued in use in the early first century A.D. when it was adapted and enlarged, precisely at the time in which the site became an imperial property. This must have been a relatively high-status structure, with floor or dado coverings of white and grey marble slabs. Also several large panes of window glass retrieved here suggest a well-appointed structure. Some of the walls of this early Roman building were preserved, although in places they had been robbed out. On top of one of them, a coin of Vespasian was found, indicating that the building was dismantled after A.D. 70.

    The building was replaced with another structure on the same alignment, of which well- preserved walls and floors, including a cobblestone floor, remained. This building was occupied well into the third and possibly even the fourth century A.D. The tile roof covering two of its rooms had collapsed onto the beaten earth floors, without being retrieved in antiquity, and a coin of the early fourth century lying immediately on top of a robbed-out wall here is a useful piece of evidence to date the abandonment of the building.

    Although only a part of the Hellenistic and the early Roman buildings could be excavated due to time constraints, the structural and in situ artefactual evidence demonstrates beyond doubt that there was a predecessor settlement here, perhaps a villa, which was taken over and adapted when the imperial estate was created in the early first century A.D. The region clearly had not been depopulated or empty after the Roman conquest in the third century B.C., although it remains to be clarified who, in fact, built and inhabited the Hellenistic settlement.

    VAGNARI – Cemetery
    Excavations in the cemetery at Vagnari continued in the summer of 2016. We reopened Trench 109 from the 2015 excavations in the eastern part of the cemetery to expose 4 burials that were not fully excavated during that field season. We also extended this trench to the North by an additional 6m, creating a trench that was 11m N-S by 6m E-W in size. We uncovered 4 new burials in this northern extension, three of which were excavated this year. All but one of the tomb structures in Trench 109 were cappuccina burials. The exception was one adult individual (F331) who was interred in a simple pit with no evidence of a burial structure. We also opened up a new trench to the North of Trench 109 and Trench 89 (from 2013), measuring 10m E-W by 6m N-S. Five burials were identified in this trench (Trench 119) and 3 of these were excavated. All 3 were the characteristic cappuccina burial structures.

    Nine of the 10 burials excavated in 2016 were inhumations, with the deceased typically buried in an extended supine position with grave goods deposited around the feet and legs. The grave goods found in 2016 are similar to those found in other burials from the cemetery, including objects that were likely used by the deceased during life (e.g., hobnails, iron tools, lamps, and pottery vessels). One burial in Trench 119 (F325) was a cappuccina burial containing an in situ cremation. This is only the fourth cremation burial found in the cemetery to-date, and similar to the previous 3 cremation burials this one contained a large number of high-quality grave goods. Preliminary osteological analysis indicates that 6 adults, 2 children, and 1 neonate were buried in this part of the cemetery. The cremation burial is also likely that of an adult, but age and sex could not be determined. Ongoing bioarchaeological research at this site is investigating geographic origins, diet, and health of the people living in this rural Roman settlement.


  • Maureen Carroll - University of Sheffield
  • Tracy Prowse – McMaster University


  • Camilla Norman – University of Sydney
  • Christina Westhoff - University of Sheffield
  • Jonathan Moulton- University of Sheffield
  • Jonathan Weiland- Stanford University
  • Liana Brent- Cornell University
  • Marissa Ledger - Cambridge University

Research Body

  • Department of Anthropology, McMaster University, Canada
  • Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • The British School at Rome

Funding Body

  • The Roman Society
  • The University of Sheffield


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