The interpretive perspective has identified the mechanisms that regulate social life by the observations of the funerary contexts of the two cemetery nucleuses.


Archeological data in the burial ground of Masseria Festa

A common aspect of funerary rituals is the burial of the dead in dorsal decubitus. The burials are single and meet the criteria for the distribution of the tombs, reserved for individuals of both sexes and sub-adults, in relation to the need to respect family ties and to the relationship between the two communities. The Masseria Festa necropolis reflects a community of 26 people, with 7 adult males, 15 adult women, 4 individuals not determinable as age and 11 subadults with subjects attributable to the perinatal age, to the infans I (0-3 years), infans II (3- 12 years) and adulescens (12-18 years). Access to burial rights can be observed for all age groups, with the age class of infants with single burials that are to be included in family groups.

The presence of tombs without a kit can leave a glimpse of the presence of subaltern members. The male warriors' graves reinforce the hypothesis of an organization based on more equal-sized leaders and equal political power within large families. Privileged sectors of the necropolis are the so-called circle tombs, intended for two female burials, with an annular perimeter of large stones that define the area intended for burials. To these female presences, recognized by the community as descendants of the founders of Masseria Festa's social group, a specific funeral treatment is reserved for the importance of genealogy and the priority of allocation, with an exclusive space.

We can distinguish this typology, in which the pile of stones and earth organized as a mound had to be much more relevant than it expresses the current situation, from the simplest tombs to mounds, with domes of smaller stones. In all these structures the depositions in the center of the mound take place in the same cover of stones or on a flat trench inside the mound. The maximum visibility is the pre-eminence of the graves in the usable landscape, given by the monumentalization of the tumulus tombs. The general tendency is to saturate the space, with a distribution that aggregates the tombs into segments around the circle tombs.

The funerary typologies, apart from the circle tombs, allow a social leveling and a remarkable conservatism to show through the standardized forms, which can also be read in the composition of the kits. A peculiarity of the pits is the lateral space with respect to the floor of the deposition of the deceased, structured as a niche (Fig. 4-5). Inside there is a large ceramic container, generally the olla with a potting pot. The custom of the separate niche has been interpreted as a hallmark of practices for the hoarding of consumer goods, with particular reference to the wealth of agricultural products. The pit is reserved for the deceased and his personal objects, ornaments and tools, with numerically rather limited and considerably standardized combinations, which define their sex and rank.

The social position acquired essentially by inheritance does not show up depending on the age group, but on the basis of belonging to a certain segment of the community. The complexity and richness of the kits of the five armed men as well as of the females with ornamental sets and the presence of subadults with even emerging outfits indicate that the rank and role were not correlated with the age group. Among the most eminent female figures we mention, in this regard, the subadult of the tomb 16, the only one to present a silver fibula, with evident characters of exceptional nature. We can not speak of a real warrior elite and among the armed men, with a simple panoply, numerous variations are evident, with only three lance bearers.

The dominant code in the armor of the males seems to actually favor the knife, as an offensive weapon and tool. The differentiation of wealth for women emerges in access to jewelry in amber and glass paste and to a higher number of vascular ceramics, which do not exceed the number of three objects. Higher-level social rings are followed by the bronze suspension rings, of high symbolic value, as they are linked to the reproductive sphere and married women, while women spinning, with material indicators constituted by fuselole in dough, seem to have played a role of second floor in domestic activities. The accompanying kits associate local-style pottery with Daunia sub-geometric production oils. It assumes the diffusion along the pastoral slopes from the Irpinia hinterland the pottery in bucchero or in buccheroide dough.


The necropolis of Pezza San Michele

The funeral groupings of the necropolis of Pezza San Michele re-propose in general terms the construction types of the mounds of the nearby community, with two monumental circle tombs and aggregations of mounds in segments. The organization on sloping ground has influenced the layout of the tombs, with criteria of adaptation to the stepped differences in level. The funerary spaces provide ample free zones, perhaps as a function of community practices with celebration of the dead, and arrangement of internal paths. The necropolis is destined to 41 burials, with single depositions with the exception of the 17 bisoma tomb. Also in this area the relationship between adult subjects with 13 males and 11 women, 11 undetectable burials and the infant population between infants and sub-adults seems to be equal to 11 individuals.

However, numerous social and ideological differences are observable. An exception is the burial of an adult horse lying in an earthly grave, at a lower altitude than the remains of an adult individual. The ritual of the sacrifice of a horse is an expression of the particular importance of the horse in the social context of the community. The ritual use of sacrificing and burying horses in pre-Roman Italy is a strong indicator of rank: the horse is sacrificed as an extraordinary creature who can perform in the funeral ritual the function of psychopomp, leading the dead.

Marisa Corrente