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Neolithic tomb restoration project and use of the archaeological park in Murgia Timone site

  • Client:
    Invitalia S.p.A.
  • Year:
  • Type:
  • Status:
    finished work
  • Team:
    arch. F. Russo (team leader), arch. R. Russo, ing. G. Sblendorio, arch. Stefano Serpenti, ing. Vito Sciruicchio, Geoatlas S.r.l., arch. A. Trisolini, arch. P. Laureano, arch. M.C. Petralla, ing. C. Zaccagnino, dott. G. De Felice
  • Consultants:
    dott.ssa G. Lubisco, dott.ssa M. Milella, dott. L. Forte
  • Surface:
    2500 square meters
  • Location:
    Matera (MT) - Italy

Matera is one of the few urban settlements that has maintained a temporal continuity and a vital dwelling unity from the most ancient ages to contemporary times. Its territory preserves testimonies of human settlements that, starting from the Paleolithic, arrive uninterruptedly until our days.
Also for this reason, Matera was officially declared the first site in Southern Italy "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO in 1993 and has been designated "European Capital of Culture" for 2019.
The site of Murgia Timone is located within the protected area of the Historical and Natural Archaeological Park of the Rock Churches of Matera, in which there are many rock churches, the Neolithic entrenched village and several emergencies of the traditional agro-pastoral system, such as the Jazzo Gattini.

The Neolithic village
The site stands on a plateau about 420 meters above sea level, east of Matera. The most visible structures are related to a large village of Neolithic age. Within the area of the enclosure are visible the monumental structures of two burial hypogea of the post-Neolithic period and numerous traces “in negative” referable to housing structures.

Project Objectives
Within the event Matera European Capital of Culture 2019, the project of the Parco della Storia dell’Uomo - Civiltà rupestre e preistoria has the ambition not only to reactivate the itinerary of the rock churches and the prehistoric entrenched villages, which dot the territory of Matera, but above all to become a model of enhancement of a tourism compatible with the state of the places and the architectural and landscape heritage.

A campaign of advanced surveys was carried out aimed at the topographic, geometric and material reconstruction of the areas under examination.
In particular, thanks to the precision of the technologies used it was possible to obtain for the first time an accurate survey of the entire site of Murgia Timone and an exact image of the perimeter of the two enclosures of the moat of the entrenched village, overcoming the obvious inaccuracies of the surveys in the literature. As a result of the investigations conducted, a manual archaeological excavation was carried out for the point of intersection between the georadar surveys and the thermal infrared surveys that returned the layout of the trench.

The structural works planned are mainly characterized by consolidation interventions identified in the logic of local improvement of the resistant capacities of the structures and with the intent to prevent dangerous degenerative phenomena, which originate in the natural degradation and evolution of the rocky material that constitutes the structures themselves.
The proposed strategy is therefore aimed at the widespread restoration of the conditions of resistance of the structure, through the reconstruction of the collapsed parts, partly the result of previous restorations, the reintegration of the missing parts, the re-modelling and strengthening of the rock-foundation system, the suturing of the discontinuities of the existing stone structure, the insertion of connection devices capable of ensuring the compactness of the sections, while maintaining a high degree of compatibility, reversibility and discreet recognizability
Hypogeous tombs: it was foreseen the punctual insertion of helical pins both in fiberglass and in stainless steel in all those situations where there were detachments of constituent material, especially along the pillars that support the extrados. The latter were performed with a low-speed rotary drill in order to avoid vibrations of the detached areas and consequent loss of constituent material.

Use and enhancement of the archaeological park
The project has recovered the existing paths and has integrated them with a new archaeological path of visit and fruition constituted by a wooden walkway, useful for the preservation of the existing natural vegetation, protected by the Habitat Regulation 2000, but also to preserve the most sensitive archaeological areas (such as the extrados of underground tombs) from an uncontrolled walk.
The new walkway is configured as a lightweight infrastructure to allow a visit path reasoned with respect to the numerous and exceptional testimonies of the Neolithic village of Murgia Timone.
This is made of treated larch wood slats, mounted on a metal frame resting directly on the ground, ensuring an adequate use by people with different degrees of disability.

Routes and paths
The intervention has precisely identified the paths to be taken to access the seven churches that are the object of the intervention and in particular for the Church Madonna delle Tre Porte and San Falcione it was necessary to remodel the existing path in order to guarantee an enlarged accessibility. In consideration of the orography of the ground and of the disposition of the rocky churches, two visiting paths have been identified, oriented on the level of difficulty and/or of available time: Path 1, low level of difficulty, short walk; Path 2, high level of difficulty, long walk.
Inside the Park a new integrative signage has been inserted in order to valorize the fruitive-didactic experience of knowledge of the territory, from the faunistic-geological-botanical-vegetational point of view, composed by iron filiform elements in CorTen steel; recognizable elements to be placed at uniform distances to help the visitor to orient himself inside the Park.

The multimedia project has aimed at enhancing and connecting the existing cultural and environmental heritage through centralizing points that act as access doors to the Park's routes: the Visitor Center of Jazzo Gattini and the complex of the Church San Falcione.
Jazzo Gattini will act as the first information gate thanks to the setting up of a new multimedia museum where the user will be able to understand the peculiarities of the site from a historical-anthropological, faunal and geological as well as archaeological point of view. The sheepfold of the Jazzo welcomes real scenes and virtual reconstructions, alternating immersive stations and interactive exhibits, moments of collective vision and individual fruition, so as to ensure visitors a varied, exciting and engaging experience: a large multi-user touchscreen monitor allows visitors to explore the archaeological excavation of Murgia Timone; columns equipped with VR helmets and audio cuffie allow visitors to immerse themselves in the virtual reality of the historical-anthropic use of the Murgia Materana through reconstructive hypotheses in 3D.