Unknowingly, I continued in the footsteps of Horace, literally driving into “Gnatia, built on angry waters.” We had decided to take a leisurely drive up the Adriatic coast of Puglia for our last day in this region. We were planning on visiting some beautiful beaches, when the familiar brown sign appeared – Scavi Archeologici. Only this time, we didn’t need to use our modern GPS to help us find the hidden site. We drove right through it, with an Acropolis to our right, on the water, and the rest of the city to our left. As can be seen in the sign above, this area has been excavated to reveal three distinct periods: the Messapian, Roman, and Late Roman Period. First we toured the area of Roman houses and markets divided by the Via Traiana, including an egg-shaped amphitheater and area devoted to the Near-Eastern goddess Cybele and her companion, Attis. Following this came the baths. We didn’t have time for the Necropolis, and the Acropolis wasn’t open to us, but we ended our visit at the museum, which is filled with items from the excavations of all these areas.
I enjoyed seeing both the physical locations and the objects found in those locations.
It is always fascinating to me to see the evidence of the early Roman heating systems in their bath complexes. Notice the well-worn road and the tubuli, the clay box-flue tiles.
Finally, the museum, like the one in Metaponto, contained an overwhelming number of artifacts. I once again enjoyed the ability to view at my own pace without having to worry about swarms of people or a time table.
I highly encourage those of you interested in either these time periods or archaeology, early tribal languages, coins, governmental structures, rites of the dead, or religious rites to visit this site. You’ll probably have the place to yourself!