An Ulisside he was. Perpetual desiccation of the unknown earth the greedy heart labored, desirous to wander in ever greater space, to make new experience of people and perils and terrestrial smells.

Gabriele D’Annunzio, Lauds of the sky, of the sea, of the earth and of the heroes


The meaning of the land, of the rural rurality of Castelluccio Valmaggiore, leads us to define possible social organizations, kinship structures and lineages, beliefs, distinctions of spaces and functions, times and events that have shaped the places. The path from Ulisside that you want to undertake means giving voice to the voiceless, to the ancient peoples who populated this circumscribed territory of Daunia Subappennines. Archaeological research, thanks to the methods of verifying the subsoil of preventive archeology, today allows us to talk about a cultural landscape. It is an invitation to travel to a territory of difference and diversity, towards a land to which we are all invited to attribute duration and meaning.

The new paths of knowledge correspond to a crossing of territory. The large Massafra-Biccari methane pipeline has defined geographical and cultural perimeters. If we grasp the sense of places, the possible meanings of the human and cultural landscape of Castelluccio Valmaggiore, we no longer have terrae incognitae, yet to be explored, but a territory that we can describe.

“Serendipity” or the discovery of something unexpected and important that has nothing to do with what we intended to find.

The word serendipity indicates the fortune of making happy discoveries and finding unexpected things and at the same time presupposes the recognition of their value, framing them in a broader horizon of knowledge and directing research. This is what happened in the researches that affected the Masseria Festa and Pezza San Michele sites, in a border area between the territories of Castelluccio and Biccari (fig 1).


The discovery

The areas identified, separated by the Forense torrent, are connected to the funeral occupation by small communities settled in this area of ​​the territory between the mid-sixth and fifth centuries BC. These are two physically distinct areas in the assumption of an organization clanico type, tribal that reserves spaces delimited to the deceased of family groups (figure 2).


Identity recognition

The theme of the recognition of social groups presupposes the identification of the geographical space in which a given community recognizes and relies on. We are in a border space, of geographic and physical marginality in which ancient tracks, covered since the Bronze Age, have formed routes connecting the internal Appennines areas. The geographic scope of Daunia Subappennine has peculiar dynamics that differentiate it from the flat regions of internal Apulia. In this territory, a transitional land par excellence, there has been a great mobility of people and materials and cultural facts deserve special attention.

Given that certain guidelines allow men to act according to common beliefs, following patterns of behavior elaborated in the social life of communities and acquired with codified and repeated actions, the locative dimension should be highlighted, a socially homogeneous space, with boundaries shared by others. The confrontation between the community of Masseria Festa and Pezza San Michele and the others may have been dialectical or conflicting in reference and often in contrast with other individuals and other groups in the same territorial sector.


Before the Samnites

What is the social identity, or the public identity of the social groups of these necropolis? Archeological visibility allows a clear definition of social patterns of belonging. The identity issue allows us to identify them as segments of proto-samnites people, therefore not of Daunian ethnicity. In the exchange and in relationships, in space and time, the specific way of being of these people is linked to the ethnic and cultural dimension and to the perspective frame of the Appennine system and of the Proto-Romanic populations before the process of self-identification and ethnic structure of the sannite people in the last decades of the fifth century BC. From the second half of the eighth century BC archeological evidence explains some cultural traits of the central-southern Appennine populations, hard, warlike and proud people who lived in harsh and inaccessible places.

During the 6th century BC, these peoples transplanted their cultural models in this stretch of the border between the territory of Irpinia, the land of origin, and the Daunia territory, to control traffic routes. Further and more important migratory movements of Appennine peoples occurred in the second half of the fifth century BC in peninsular Italy. The observations on the migratory phenomenon highlight the importance of the routes of transhumance and pastoralism in the dynamic framework of the movements of the Samnite peoples. The Samnites of the tribal political entities (touta) of the Caudins, the Irpini, the Pentri, the Carricini and the Frentani, are passed down from the Roman sources following the conflicts between the mid-4th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC. historical and territorial.

Vasto is the Samnite territory, largely characterized by the physical harshness of mountain places, affected by the movement of people between Abruzzo, Molise, northern Apulia and Campania. We can recognize between Castelluccio Valmaggiore and Biccari allogeneous presences, protosannite, linked to the existence of modest unidentified villages, nucleuses that had established themselves before the formation of the historical ethne. Putting problems of ethnic stratification and possible isolated nucleuses, we must avoid identification, in the reconstruction of the different cultural facies, of the communities of both Masseria Festa and San Michele with the historical Samnites.

In a pre-urban ethnic-territorial context, these peripheral and frontier groups are framed in events of expansionism and of political-military facts that draw a historical parable between the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The population trend of these Italic peoples, thanks to archaeological research, allows to identify further small communities in the area of ​​the Daunia Subappennine, such as the settlement of Mount Calvello, in the territory of Troia, to control the river path of Sannoro.

Marisa Corrente