Thursday, May 03, 2007

Egnazia

I could write a book on this town. Well to be fair it’s only because I bought the book on this town. Egnazia is the location of an abandoned town that is now an archeological excavation and a small museum between Brindisi and Monopoli. It’s one of those places that would be really important except it’s in Italy where there already have places like it all over the place. I’ve driven past it many times but when Natalie was here we stopped and we actually paid the 2 euros to go in and take the tour. In addition I bought a 3-euro guidebook (called Egnazia 30 Centuries of History) so I would know what we were looking at. The book is really kinda of useless for the tour because it talks a lot about the very old aspects of the town and that’s not what you see. What you see is the remains of the Roman era town that built on top of the older Bronze and Iron Age towns. All that remains of pre-Roman times are the crypts cut into stone and the artifacts that are in the museum. To be fair there are signposts around the site that tell you (in English and Italian) what you’re looking at so you really don’t need the book. Natalie did a very good job of photographing the signposts and the site so I’m able to label the photos with incredible accurancy.

The book starts at the beginning, which for Egnazia was in the 16th century BC. Yes 16 centuries before Christ. There is not a lot to see today from that time but they have found evidence that there was a defensive wall around the town that was 2.20 meters high (little over 7 feet) and 2.9 meters wide (9.5 feet). They believe the houses inside this wall were randomly distributed oval shaped huts. At that time the wall encircled about 3 hectares of a small peninsula on the rocky Adriatic coast. This small area is right on the sea but slightly higher than the surrounding coast and was later made into the “acropolis” of the Roman era town. By the 4th Century BC the walls had expanded inland to protect 40 hectares of houses and the people were starting to take on a Greek class structure. Then in the 3rd century BC the first public buildings were created and an “Italic type” temple built on the acropolis. I don’t know what an Italic type temple is, maybe it’s angled? The urbanization and structure of the town was considered “complete” at the end of the 1st century BC. All this work was carefully tied to Brindisi because it was through Brindisi that all Helenistic structure from Greece flowed into Egnazia. At the height of Roman Empire Egnazia benefited from the construction of the Via Traiana, which was an alternate route of the Via Appia from Benevento to Brindisi. This road is seen today in white limestone as it was discovered in the first excavations in 1913. It is also on this road that Horace traveled in 38 BC on his famous trip from Brindisi to Rome. The town was abandoned in the 10th century after being raided repeatedly by the Goths. I guess it was time to go to a more fortified town like Brindisi and Monopoli or inland to Fasano. Damn those Goths!!

The first photo is of tombs cut into solid rock with rock slab lids made in the 3rd and 4th century BC.

This photo is of the famous Via Traiana which was an alternate route of the Via Appia from Brindisi to Benevento. You can still see the ruts in the road from the carts that used to travel this. Also it's cool because you see the same thing in Pompeii but the roads are paved with black basalt blocks.

This photo is a kiln from the Roman era. The round area was where they fired the pottery and there were two "lanes" to add fuel to the fire. This kiln is actually built over one of the 3rd Century BC tombs.

This last photo is of a piazza from the Roman era. The strange thing about this is that it was just uncovered in excavations done in 2001-2004! And there is still a lot to do. I'm not busy this weekend. All I ask is that I get to keep one coin from Roman times. I would love to find something like that.

4 comments:

Cynthia Rae said...

Well done! I love these kinds of posts. You can go back to being funny tomorrow, but don't forget to add a post like this from time to time.

I would LOVE to see this place. Too bad it is so far south. On of these days I will get down there.

Cyn
ps. Keep in mind you are talking to girl who spent 7 hours in Pompeii and only left because it was time to close!

KC said...

That is a fascinating site! If I ever visit Puglia, I'll have to see that.

BTW, I love architecture jokes, and yours about Italic temples being angled really made me laugh.

Johnny O said...

Awesome story. I would really love to travel over there soon...

Jeff Gromen said...

Cyn,
Yeah, it's pretty far and after my train ride to Venice I can't recommend coming that way. If it helps you can visit Metaponto too. That's were Pythagoras went to live when he was kicked out of Crotone.

KC,
I couldn't help myself.

JO,
I loved the article I just read on your blog about ultimate.

Jeff