Housing forms in the ager Aecanus


A political, administrative, legal and economic point of reference to frame the history of Castelluccio Valmaggiore in Roman times is the Roman foundation of Aecae as civitas foederata - with the reorganization of the ager and its inhabitants - later became municipium, after the social war, and in the Antoninian age colony (with the official name of Colonia Augusta Apulorum). The southern boundary of the ager Aecanus included Orsara di Puglia, in the south-western part fell the center of Castelluccio Valmaggiore. The Vulgano river defined the boundary with the territory of Lucera.

The long historical parabola of the small oppidum of Aecae up to the birth of Troia (1019) by the Byzantine catapano Boiohannes has a peculiar evidence when it is remembered by the historical sources together with Arpi, Salapia and Herdonia, in relation to the presence of Hannibal in the Second Punic War and the Carthaginian war strategies in Hirpinia, Lucania and Apulia. The degree of involvement of Aecae in favor of the Punic army entailed heavy punishment and the invocation of part of the territory, recovering to the availability of the Roman people unused public parts of the public. Massive had to be the allocation of allogeneous Roman citizens and the characters of the population had to change, urged by the nodal role played by Aecae in the connections between Campania and Apulia.

It can not be ruled out that behind the conflict in the annibal zone, the land was assigned to the campaign's veterans of Spain and Africa under the command of Scipione, based on the years of service provided, even if the centuriation identified, remembered in the Coloniari Books, bordered to the south by the Cervaro river and to the north by the Vulgano stream, it should be a reflection of graccana age assignments.


The farmhouse of contrada Tavoliere

Archeological research, in the border area between the territory of Castelluccio and Troia, gives us back three different housing models responding to distinct social organizations. The evidence of contrada Tavoliere is of particular interest for the qualification of the context as a small farm with a large paved central court and organization of the rooms in two rectangular blocks (Figures 1-2).

The construction, responding in the first phase organization to the rural housing models of classical-early-Renaissance, sees considerable restructuring and qualitative improvements of the environments in the late Republican age. It is necessary to ask whether the restructuring of the complex, of good building quality, has been solicited by the presence of new conductors, of Roman extraction. In this case, the house could be an example of a farmhouse linked to a fundus in the context of the operations of appraisal ex lege Sempronia of Graccana age.


The rural mansion of Vigna Masci

The new territorial structuring with capillary exploited agricultural structures sees the birth of larger farms suitable for the intensive exploitation of medium-large funds (Figures 3-4). The rural mansion of Vigna Masci, built on a hilly plateau, despite the inexactness of the investigated surfaces, would seem to belong to the particular architectural category of buildings distinguishing between pars urbana and pars rustica, the first with residential value and the second functional to activities for the management of the property and the exploitation of the resources of the campaign. Morphology of the plant on a hilly area with easy access control, availability of water resources are the prerequisites for the long occupation of the settlement.


The great properties based on epigraphic testimonies

The epigraphic documentation from the territory of Castelluccio provides further information on the structure of the great properties in the imperial age. In 1812 it was recovered in the countryside of Castelluccio Valmaggiore and acquired by Fiorelli Civic Museum of Lucera in 1935 the sacred altar dedicated by the Servus Vitalis to the numen Herculis acheruntini, datable between the end of the second and the first decade of the III century AD. Vitalis defines itself ser(vus) reg(ionarius) of the clarissimus vir Cl(audius) Severus, one of the members of the senatorial gens of the Claudii Severi originating in Galicia (region of Spain), close by family ties to the emperor Marcus Aurelius. The altar had been dedicated to the fundus of a rich exponent of the aristocratic class.

Recent studies have proposed, on the basis of the discovery of another inscription found in 1956 in the Argaria district in the territory of Castelluccio, where the augustale Hedys liberto of the dominus Cl. Severus, that the eminent character of the ara may be Ti. Claudius Severus Proculus, son of Cn. Claudius Severus. The inscription is of great interest not only for the attestation of the cult of Hercules, very widespread in the countryside, but for the reference to the office of Vitalis as regionarius, with an administrative task of high responsibility in the control of a large district. It is the first case of attestation of professional activity carried out in the sphere of private property: generally the figure of the regionarius is documented in the 3rd century AD in imperial capital districts.

The need for a special task is probably due to the instability of the territory and to security reasons, with particular attention to the repression of brigandage. In the Severian period (193-235 AD) in Apulia there were widespread brigantes, as witnessed by the episode of Felix Bulla, a freedman who gathered around him a band of brigands, about 600, with spectacular and furious attacks on public order.


Agriculture and breeding at the Masseria Festa site. The farm-stable.

The ways of occupation in the Early Middle Ages are testified by a remarkable building, in a good state of preservation, with a rectangular planimetry and development of two rooms in the longitudinal direction. The stabilization of an ancient route in Roman times, made manifest by the two burials of the Imperial age found in the site of Pezza San Michele, shines from the settlements and funerary settlements of the early Middle Ages, with isolated terrestrial tombs. The large building (71,5 x 35 ft.), built on the leveling layers of the pre-Roman period frequenting plan, has a large area of ​​external relevance extended on the front with annexed pavement characterized by pits-garbage, small production preparations, plans for the processing of farm products.

Interested in at least two phases of attendance between the VI and VII centuries AD, the rustic building has a good wall technique with solid foundations built with medium and large calcareous stones and binder of yellow clayey mortar, floors in beaten earth, partial pebbled accommodation (Figures 6-8). A residential function is recognizable in the α square-shaped environment (m 6.60 x 6.10), with front entrance facing the port paved portico, with a rectangular plan (6.60 x 2.80 m), open onto the courtyard. The residential use is clarified by the hearth area on the floor of the square compartment. More complex from a constructive and functional point of view is the large environment β of m 13 x 6, with three central pillars fixed in large holes in the ground that divided the interior space and had to hold a floor.

The structure of the raised walls and the double-pitched roof had to be entirely wooden. The environment, with a perimeter wall at the bottom on a stone base, was open on the north-east and south-east sides with a massive wooden palimade on the southern side that defined a porch elevation.

The elongated plan, the internal division with pillars that define two aisles, the wide porticoed opening towards the courtyard recall the well-attested typology of the stables for animal shelter with the wide porch functional to animals movement. The building structure must also have the function of storage for tools and wagons, with the upper floor destined to granary.

Marisa Corrente