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The Centopietre at Patù

  • Ruth and David Whitehouse

The Centopietre at Patù, 60 km. south of Leece (FIG. I ) is one of the most extraordinary ancient monuments in south-east Italy. It is asmall rectangular structurewith ashlarwalls and a pitched roof, built entirely ofstone. Several accounts of the Centopietre are available in Italian, notably those of Pasquale Maggiulli, who produced the first rational discussion of the building in 1912 [I], and Professor Adriano Prandi, who published the results of a detailed investigation in 1961 [2]. However, as far as we know, no account has ever appeared in English. Discussion of the Centopietre has produced two distinct hypotheses. The first, advanced by Maggiulli, holds that it is protohistoric and was built in a style derived from the Greeks; the second, argued at length by Professor Prandi, contends that it is medieval. This article describes the Centopietre and suggests that the earlier date is more likely to be correct. We reach this conclusion by relating the structure to three other monuments in the Terra d'otranto, the Cisternale at Vitigliano and the 'megalithic' tombs which formerly existed at Uggiano la Chiesa and Muro Leccese. None of these monuments has ever been regarded as medieval and we suggest that the group as a whole belongs to the Messapian Iron Age.

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* When we visited the monument in 1965, no attempt was being made to protect it from the effects of blasting in the immediate vicinity.

Both Mr and Mrs Whitehouse are research students working under the auspices of the British School at Rome, Mr Whitehouse on medieval pottery and Mrs Whitehouse on problems of the neolithic settlement of southern Italy. Here they describe what they rightly call ‘one of the most extraordinary ancient monuments in south-east Italy’—the Centopietre at Patù, some sixty kilometers south of Lecce.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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