A Messapic tomb was discovered during the excavations for the construction of the methane gas grid in Manduria, an Apulian city in the province of Taranto, famous for the production of ‘Primitivo’ wine.
The tomb, described as a funerary monument with characteristics of both the Messapian and Magna Graecia civilizations, is a rectangular shaped fossa (trench) grave, cut into the bedrock, with a wide upper section or controfossa, and lacking the roofing slabs.
Despite the fact that the internal walls were in contact with the soil for over two millennia, they still have preserved a large part of their painted plaster: an upper frame shows a continuous meander motif in red and blue colours, of very fine workmanship.
Only a few fragments of pottery have been recovered from the tomb which indicate that it was constructed during the third to second centuries BC. According to archaeologists, the tomb may have been plundered during the thirteenth century.
The excavation is still in progress and it is not excluded that other useful elements will surface that will illuminate further aspects of the Messapian civilization.
Manduria, also referred to as “Mandonion” in works by the Greek and Roman historian Plutarch, was an important stronghold of the Messapii against Taras. Archidamos III, king of Sparta, fell beneath its walls in 338 BC, while leading the Tarantine army.
Manduria revolted against Hannibal, but was taken in 209 BC.