Jesce

Località Jesce - Altamura (Bari)
Categoria: Medioevo, Alto medioevo, Era Classica, Itinerari, Visite guidate, Neolitico, Sito Archeologico, Necropoli, Via Appia

Jesce Site

Author: Staff Kroplus

Author: Bernardo Centoducati                                          Translator: Irene Mirizzi

This site is built in a small depression over the formations of “Murgia Catena” and “Sgarrone” (calcareous subareas). The pre-classical village is composed of a set of ten caves arranged in a row on the north side of the long road created by the flock’s track (tratturo) and by an archeological area. The set of classical era presents an archaelogical zone situated on the hill in front of the manor farm. The rocky settlement is composed of 20/30 hypogeous units arranged on the two sides of the tratturo halfway on north-west and halfway on south-east, on the two edges of a kind of a ravine (gravina). The crypt can be defined the element of continuation between the hypogeous settlement and the construction under the wide open sky. The manor farm “castle” is also present in the site. Past events of complete generations which have succeeded for about three thousand years and left tracks that are visible even today are represented in this farmhouse like in not many others places; transformations that Jesce’s farmhouse experienced, since pre-classical residential area to alley of classical era, medieval farmhouse, manor farm which has been fortified in modern era, are present in that stones and in that places,and today they are still well preserved.

NECROPOLIS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS

Author: Staff Kroplus

Author: Bernardo Centoducati                                          Translator: Irene Mirizzi

The pre-classical settlement is situated at the cross road among the tratturo and the intermediary byway (500 mt far from Hamlet Jesce), which brings two meaningful traces of the past. The first one is composed of about ten caves arranged in a row on the north side of the tratturo. The rocky environments distinguish themselves for the vaguely circular form, with the corroded walls made of tuff with horizontal furrows just at the layers of sedimentationi; some of them present the collapse of the vault.The second track is composed of an archaelogical area from which numerous fragments of probably attributable ceramics to a period that starts from the the end of the Bronze Age to the begin of the Iron Age (XI-VIII century B.C.). The tratturo goes down toward south, coasted down by consistent drystone walls and slots in between two calcareous cliffs on which lean out from both the sides rocky environments that lead you to think to a small gorge in the final tract The settlement of classical age, situated on the hill in front of the manor farm, leads you to think to the existence of one of the widest and more important archaeological zone of Altamura’s territory. An archaeological zone of similar dimensions is situated in the locality “Pantano”, exactly to the opposite extremity of the calcareous edge.A first image of the ancient territorial organization emerges from such considerations: the big settlement of the hill of Altamura at the centre of the calcareous edge, two archaeological zones situated in central position also in comparison to the axis that flank the same strip to the north and to the south, and that link other less important archaeological zones proved by archaeological discoveries at the extremities, in a simmetrical mode. A precise dating of the inhabited area (V-II century B.C.) has been possible through the materials recovered from more than one hundred graves brought to the light, belonging to three separate necropolises Next to these. It is necessary to add the presence of a big wall that encircles the zone of the inhabited area and two of the necropolises next to these testimonies. The wall, a dry stone wall raised, is composed of stones of several dimensions, and present several fractures: the presence of big blocks to horizontal disposition at the bottom, that in some cases flank the wall internally, lead you to suppose a different solidity of the wall in different ages. The building circuit has an ovoidal form that set sit in connection with the corrals of the Apulian prehistoric villages and with a series of similar “signs” present at the interior of the old town centre of Altamura. The circuit is crossed in the north-east/south-west direction from the tratturo (flock’s track) which from the Appian way continues toward the pre-classical settlement, while the area of the classical settlement, the internal necropolis and a not casual passage in the wall are aligned along an axis, transverse in respect to the previous, that continues towards the necropolis external to the enclosure. The same presents a prominence that leads you to think to the presence of a supervision place at the northern extremity, in the highest point. The whole classical settlement suffered a decadence in Roman epoch, even if its identification with the “Sublupatia” of the Peutinger’s Tabula and the Antonini itineraries leads you to suppose the serviva as a mansio (place of change of the horses and supplì of food and accommodation)along the Appian Way even in dark ages period.

CRYPT

Author: Staff Kroplus

Author: Bernardo Centoducati                                          Translator: Irene Mirizzi

The crypt of Jesce can be defined the element of continuity between the hypogeal settlement and the constructions under the wide open sky. The plant has a form roughly rectangular and presents two inlets in a guise of chapel, one on the left side, the other on the right side near the entry. The vault is composed of a tuffaceous flat boulder, while the anterior part has a barrel vault made of tuff. The access dromos ends with a simple facade, with a portal from the rounded arch intrados and ogival arch estrado that opens on three steps, surmounted by a window and a recess.The entry in arranged towards the Appian way, namely oriented towards south-east. The sacre environment is rectangular, with a width from 4,40 metres to 4,70 and a length of 10 metres. We still find the primitive altar of 1 x 1,60 metres, covered by a great plate made of silica, in the bottom, in front of the door; two smaller altars are situated on the right and on the left, probably realized together with the relative hatfuls in the half of XVII century. Along the walls the native seat, obtained in the stone, is still situated. In the corner composed of the wall on the right with the recess of the altar, a big stone heap probably of the thirteenth-century is rooted, has an hemispherical and smooth form, with a hollow of 58 cms of diameter. In the same wall, but towards the back corner, an underground corridor of tardive epoch opens, as results from the clear cut of the primitive paintings and by the fact that was realized fora n internal communication with the overhead house. The crypt’s vault is plain and obtained by the stone in the posterior part, namely from the principal altar to the heap of the holy water, while is in stonework, and is a circular vault or a barrel vault.from that point until the entry. In this first part, having been only the height of the walls, A lunette or half-round space is present on the line of the plain vault, iscrive under the barrel vault in front of the entry, in which the Crucefix was painted in the seventeenth century between the Centurion and Saint Thomas. A dedication was written in lapidary form to the side of this that allows the certain attribution of this work to Fulviano de Seas, born from Giovanni Geronimo and from Rosa Ragone on October, 9th, 1631.Having fall the plaster of the seventeenth century, another fresco painting is luckily reappeared, that, from the brands frame of colour and from the nature of the shades and the technique, can be considered of italo-Byzantine school and coeval of the other similar that still are seen in the crypt. Such particle on the lunette proves that this was always at the interior of the chapel and, as a consequence, that the construction of the anterior part of the same returns to the origin, namely almost at the end of the XIII century or at the beginning of the XIV, according to the probable dating of the most ancient frescoes.

ROCKY SETTLEMENT

Author: Staff Kroplus

Author: Bernardo Centoducati                                          Translator: Irene Mirizzi  

The rocky installation is composed of about twenty, thirty hypogeal units arranged on the two sides of the tratturo (a wide trail obtained by the animals’ transhumance), and has an half to the north-east and another half to the south-east, on the two banks of a kind of gravina (valley excavated in the calcareous rocks). Their ubication is central in relation to the ovoid and the number results unspecified because of the burying made for some units in recent epoch and also because of the connection through tunnels between contiguous caves in a less recent epoch. In the proximities of the “Castle Manor Farm” we find four big rocky units add the crypt, that several times were subjected to extensions and had been used as cellars, stables and storages until today. The most significative cave is situated in a more decentralized position, near the gap in the enclosure, characterized by a series of recesses of drop shape, that are hollow in the walls. The remaining caves of the north-western bank present environment of round shape which have been obtained by gemmation from a central nucleus, where you can enter through the dromos (an open-air hallway) by entrances that in some cases still maintain the facade in stonework made of tuff with door compartment. On the south-oriental bank we find two caves with a wide courtyard delimited on the front partly from walls of stone; the other present a shape of gem, but with spaces quite reduced, while some have a rougher form of unique location. So we find the tipologies present in other rocky medieval settlement of the area: does not appear in Jesce the formations of more caves arranged around a “court”. The number of cavities lead you to think to a settlement of middle proportions connected, through the Appian Way and its byways, with the several rocky villages situated on the border of the calcarean formations, and we have to remember among them for a more numerous consistence of caves, “Sgarrone”, “St. Thomas”, the zone underlying the northern side of the “Mura Megalitiche” of Altamura, “Crapolicchio” and “Pisciulo”.

MANOR FARM "CASTLE”

Author: Staff Kroplus

Author: Bernardo Centoducati                                          Translator: Irene Mirizzi

The primary nucleus of the manor farm is composed by the wide central hall of the ground floor. The profile of the vault, an acute ogival arc with centres internal to the shutter, respects proportions that we can recover in the most refined medieval buildings: the vault, the line of the shutter, the centres of curving are arranged on armonical reports of figures like the square and the triangle. The height of the external perimetral wall is prolonged over the internal height and lead you to think to the existence of a first floor that could amount the originating building like a tower. Remains of powerful walls are present to the north-west and south-east extremities of the actual manor farm, that pose directly on the tufaceous seat with the irregular profile, which is composed of heap of stones of different nature and piebald marking linked with mortar and raised at horizontal recourses. The rampants, which are ruined in different points, reach the height of about 7 metres in an inglobed line in a masonry of tuff on a little door obtained from a tufaceous bench. The technology of construction and position arranges them in the field of manor farm’s defensive system of an almost trapezoidal form. In continues on other two sides with powerful drystones which encloses the nearby courtyard, two caves and a big cistern of water. At the end of the sixteenth century the building is refined with the remakes of the first floor thanks to the family Verricelli from Matera: two locations are obtained, one of about 40 square metres, the other of 20 square metres. The first location which they used to enter through an external staircase has a rectangular form with a cavetto vault provided with a string course, with a form of jutting out lunettes sketched out on shelves, with function of representation. The second has a pavilion vault, two symmetrical windows on the sides, with function of representation. In the same intervention, two arches-buttress were realized and used as logge in the superior part surrounded by a mailing of tuff to absorb the loads of the two vaults on the external walls. The realization of the arches conveys models of buttresses of the “Civita” of Matera characterised by the use of the double arch with the moving back of the underlying one. The basis of the south arch departs from the internal of an underlying cave adjacent to the crypt. Toward the half of the seventeenth century the manor farm endures an extension: a big location with a barrel vault at the ground floor and three locations with barrel vault in a sequence at the first floor; a small central loggia with balustrade on the facade and on the two corners jetting out shelves for the construction of two watchtowers. These shelves do not present stylistic affinities with other decorative elements: could be pieces of reuse belonging to the old building. Later a second body is added on the western side in alignement with the prior: the ground floor is occupied by an access furnace on which a small location, the portal of the ladder to the first floor and the access to a subterranean tunnel that conduces to a crypt overlook. A second arch is added on the southern facade for the sustain of the ladder, linked to the previous one by a new railing of wet tuff. Later, two buttresses in the posterior part and a jutting part with balcony in the anterior part intervene on this last slice for static motifs intensified by the presence of a cave near the wall on the northern side: the intervention foresees an arch at ground floor to balance the two other which exist, a balcony with decorations of curved and crinkled leaves covered with a stratum and unloaded by a loggia surmounted by an aedicule with the statue of St. Michael. The last extension on the west side, of the XIX century, guzzles in the south the wall made of stones, while on the north insists on a cave that soon undermines its stability. The presence of rocky locations on the north and south sides forced the development of the bodies of factory along the trajectory east-west, and determined a typology which is different from the one at court typical of the fortified manor farm created with the successive aggregations from the Seventeenth century to the Nineteenth century.

APPIAN WAY - JESCE

Author: Staff Kroplus

Author: Staff Kroplus                                                       Translator: Irene Mirizzi

Either you travel the Appian Way from Altamura to Laterza, or that you come from the opposite direction, Jesce Farmhouse appears in all its massive bulk, cashed in a small depression of the land placed at the feet of that course natural stone called Murgia Catena. Its site, rich of ancient ruins and of conspicuous remains of the Appian Way, was remembered in 1745 by Francesco Maria Pratilli, a studious that traveled on feet and by horse the whole way of “regina viarum” (Queen of ways)from Rome to Brindisi. He wrote thus: “In distanza di circa a miglia dodeci da Gravina si truova una nobil villa dei signori Mari di Altamura che Iesce vien chiamata, presso la quale chiare vestigia appariscono dell’antica selciata”. (“Twelve miles far from Gravina there is the noble villa of the Maris from Altamura called Jesce, clear ruins appear from the ancient cobblestones”) The pity of the ancient inhabitants of the farmhouse and of its owners led to the creation of a place of ritual that in the fourteenth and seventeenth century was enriched by frescoes that testify the religiousness of that laborious rural community, that lived that place since the far fourth century b.C. Jesce’s zone is situated about 10 km far from Altamura, along the provincial that unites Altamura to Laterza, to the edges of the ancient Appian Way that, coming from Gravina, crosses in that way the territory of Altamura. The zone corresponds to the place in which in ancient times rose the centre of Sublupatia mentioned by the Itinerario Antonino and by the Tabula Peutingeriana. It was one of the many vici inhabited, scattered around that hill on which in the Middle Ages Altamura would be born. Evident ruins of the ancient inhabited are not remained, but the archaeological investigations lead to the finding of numerous ceramic fragments and weight for loom, that testifies a human presence and an intense activity done without big interruptions from the fourth to the second century b.C. and continued, even if in smaller character for all the Middle Ages. In the immediate proximity three necropolis that are positioned chronologically between the fifth and the third century b.C. raise. What strikes the tourist is the manor farm. Made of massive installation of tuff, rendered even more majestic thanks to central arches and by powerful buttresses, the building is situated plumb in relation to the Appian Way to the street that links it to Murgia Catena. For this position, the eastern corner of the construction received two pensile watchtower, posed on the first floor. The construction reveals several architectural steps: the original nucleus is composed of a central hall positioned on the first floor on which was overheaded the noble floor in the end of the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century the eastern wing was realized and, even successively, the western wing. The ground floor is characterized by the thickness of the walls and for the presence of locations used as stables, safekeepings, accommodations for the farmers. You can enter the superior floor through a ladder. Here all the locations are linked among them and their function is easily recognizable. Remarkable for the largeness are the kitchen, with a fireplace that is surmounted by a big cape and the room with the gavetto vault supplied of lunette , and decorated by the emblem of the family de Mari, owner of the farmhouse in the seventeenth century. A few metres far from the manor farm and linked to this from a subterranean tunnel, there is the crypt, that establishes an element of continuity between the rocky settlement and the constructions under the wide open sky (sub divo). Presents two inlets that have the function of little lateral chapel and as a shape rudely rectangular. The vault, flat, is composed of the tufaceous stone, while the anterior part is a barrel vault. The walls are completely frescoed. You can enter the subterranean Church through a wide dromos, that ends in front of the simple lined facade, on which there is the portal composed of a rounded arch intrados and by an ogival arch extrados, on which there are a window and a recess, that times ago hosted a small statue of the archangel Michael and a recess, now posed on a side of the manor farm. Two cycles of frescoes, realized in different times, cover the internal walls of the crypt. The first confirms the survival and the lingering in the rocky apulian painting of the fourteenth-fifteenth century of the forms of the figurative Grecian art, but also influences post-Byzantines. The second, of modest invoice, celebratory of the life of Christ and of Virgin, testimonies the religiousness of the little rural community of this place in the seventeenth century, but also the echoes of a classicism of manner that, near to Christian elements, puts mythological recalls connected to Febo, Latona and Minerva.

Thanks to the kind concession of the ABMC of Altamura represented by the President, the teacher Giuseppe Pupillo The last 5 pictures are brought by “Insediamenti Rupestri of Altamura” The illustrated catalogue of the exhibition organised by the C.R.S.E.C. in the 1982.

Users' Comments

Please write a comment

Please write a comment

Per scrivere un commento Log in oppure Sign up