• Tempio di Minerva e Basilica di S. Leucio
  • Canosa di Puglia
  • Canusium
  • Italy
  • Apulia
  • Province of Barletta-Andria-Trani
  • Canosa di Puglia


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  • No period data has been added yet


  • 318 BC - 200 AD
  • 300 AD - 500 AD


    • The 2005 excavation campaign aimed to put in three trenches close to the monument. Trench I was placed in correspondence to the external western apse of the basilica, in the zone situated north of the latter, crossing the church’s perimeter wall and in proximity to the west flank of the Hellenistic temple’s base. Amongst the evidence attributable to the early structure and the later development of the Italic sanctuary, the presence of a small channel was of particular interest. Made of compact white limestone blocks it ran on a north-west/south-east alignment inside the apse: towards the south it continued below and beyond the apse wall, whilst to the north it was cut and thus interrupted. Adjacent to and parallel with the channel on its western side was a second masonry feature, a continuous line of rough limestone blocks which reappeared north of the basilica’s apse. Trench II involved an area up against the north-eastern corner of the basilica, where evidence relating to the late antique and early medieval occupation of the site was identified, together with secondary deposits which followed the site’s abandonment. Worthy of note was an in situ collapse, from a large walled structure originally on a north-south alignment built with regular brick courses. It covered another collapse of tiles and imbrices. Trench III was dug at 20 m south-east of the monument near the _Antiquarium_. Just below the humus a circular pit was uncovered, the excavation of which revealed that it had been cut into an enormous deposit or dump of votive material, relating to the life and cult practices of the Italic sanctuary.
    • 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 x 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 x 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.
    • In August 2012, work continued in trench IV to complete the excavation of the apsidal structure partially exposed in the previous season. The following phases were identified: - Phase one: the 7 m long structure originally housed six burials. No archaeological material was recovered as the burials had been opened in antiquity during a period when the _basilichetta_ was no longer in use. - Phase two: eight burials were added to the first six, arranged in two rows of four and elongating the structure by about 13 m. The tombs have been very badly disturbed by modern clandestine excavations. - Phase three: these levels attested the structure’s definitive abandonment, when a series of rooms obliterate the _basilichetta_. A wide wall divided the building in two parts and raised its floor level. Use of the site as a necropolis is attested from the 5th century A.D. onwards, the period in which the Sabiniana basilica was built. In the 5th century Christianity became widespread in rural Puglia and the Canosa region, whose agricultural landscape shows clear signs of vitality for this period. The population had clearly increased to such a degree that it needed an autonomous ecclesiastical organisation with its own structures, hierarchy, functions, and liturgical-sacramental office. The presence of an important cult building, the city’s religious hub throughout the early medieval period, justifies the increase in number and overlapping of the burials in the surrounding area, as it does the building of churches. Rural parishes and the related _cura animarum_ must have been quite widespread in the area, especially from the 5th-6th century onwards, as the result of the need to promote the spread of Christianity, which by then had solid bases in the urban centres. An important discovery was made in the season’s final week, an infant burial placed between two imbrices. It was on a north-south alignment with the head to the south (in the direction of the basilica) and the body was in a fetal position. This funerary practice used for the burial of babies has ancient origins and is widely attested in Roman and Late Roman cemeteries, continuing into the early medieval period, but always limited to cemeteries or residential buildings. For example, in the 8th-6th century B.C. phases in the necropolis of Fossa near L’Aquila (Abruzzo), about 200 infant burials are attested, the majority lying between two imbrices; for the Roman period there are examples at Egnatia and in Lombard cemeteries such as Acquafredda with 14 babies also buried in this way. In Rome, two infant burials in imbrices dating to the 5th-6th century A.D. are documented on the Caelian. This type of burial probably derives from the ancient ritual of the _enchytrismos_.


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