Talk abstract details

The “Madonna di Loreto” Bronze Age Sanctuary and its Stone Calendar
A. Tunzi, M. Lo Zupone, E. Antonello, V. F. Polcaro, F. Ruggieri


The “Madonna di Loreto” (Trinitapoli, Puglia) site is the largest Bronze Age sanctuary, to date known in Italy. Inside its area, a complex of impressive hypogeal structures, excavated in the calcareous rock and devoted to ritual use, were found. The most impressive manifestation of these religious rites is however a scheme of more than thousand circular holes, aligned in courses and covering the whole sacred area, that we interpret as a “Stone Calendar”. Most likely, liquid offers were poured to the Mother Earth Goddess, in order to ensure fertility to mankind and to nature. The holes were excavated throughout many centuries, following a rigidly planned project and referring to celestial reference points. Actually, the archaeoastronomical study of the courses revealed three main alignments: the one with the highest frequency (i.e. with the highest number of holes) is along the meridian, thus referring to astronomical phenomena with a daily periodicity (transit to the meridian of the Sun or of a star); the one with intermediate frequency to a phenomenon with annual periodicity (the azimuth of the sunrise in a peculiar day, near to the summer solstice) and the one with the lowest frequency to the South major lunistice, a phenomenon with long term (18.1 years) periodicity. These correspondences, having a very high statistical significance, allow us to interpret the courses of holes as element of a complex calendric systems, with ritual character.