Mondragone

  • Stampa

Direction
Francesca Sogliani (Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni Archeologici di Matera), Luigi Crimaco (Direttore Museo Civico Archeologico Città di Mondragone)

Responsible of survey
Dimitris Roubis (IBAM CNR – Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni Archeologici di Matera)

Responsibles of excavation campaigns and laboratory of artifacts  
Brunella Gargiulo, Valentino Vitale

Responsible of restoration laboratory
Marianna Musella

 

The fortified settlement of Rocca Montis Dragonis (Caserta) is located on the top of Monte Petrino, in the middle of an area adjoining to northwest the plain of Sessa that extends to the Liri-Garigliano, to east the slopes of Mount Massico, to south the fertile plain of the “Campania Felix”, crossed by the river Volturno and extended until the volcan Vesuvius and to west the sea. In autumn 1997 began a big archaeological investigation program on the site, started with an
intense phase of topographical analysis of the fortified settlement, supported by the study of literature and historical documentary sources relating to the Rocca. Since the year 2001, there were going on annual archaeological excavations, runned since 2005 by the Civic Archaeological Museum of Mondragone The fortified settlement, known on written sources in the early 12th century, is a big size hilltop site, characterized by a group of interior spaces and structures rather complex and hierarchically distributed in three different nuclei. 
All the buildings built on the rocky spur of the hilltop plateau of Mount Petrino, enclosed by a first curtain wall, bounded on the west by a massive semicircular tower, are overlooking the entire settlement. The whole area represents the original fortified settlement, keeping for a long time the dual role of defensive bulwark and refuge for civilians. The western part of the plateau is occupied by a large building, realized in a later phase in respect of the original plan of the plateau, which has changed the course of the first walls, emphasizing the role of hierarchical prominence of the top of the settlement. On the eastern side of the plateau, develops a first fortified village, with a pentagonal tower to the west; the village is characterized by a small religious building, some large buildings with multiple rooms and by a well-organized rainwater supply system, set up by a series of small tanks joined together. Finally, on the south side, develops a second village, with a lot of two, three and four rooms houses ranged along roads following the curves level. A third curtain wall protects the east and the west side of this village, thanks to two straight separated walls, oriented north-south. More defensive structures are located along the ridge down to the sea: a long and large “antemurale”, reinforced by two big towers, was to defend the northern side of the mountain, which is the entrance to the fortified settlement. The excavated areas in the first eight archaeological excavation campaigns (2001-2008) are included within the Architectural Complex "B" (hilltop plateau) and within the Architectural Complex "C" (first fortified village), were several buildings has been investigated. The geographical location of the fortified settlement has emphasized, from the first phase of use, recently dated to early middle age, the strategic role of territorial control and defense. Compared to evidences dated to Norman period, the Swabian one is more clear in respect of archaeological and documentary data; under Frederic the Second the Rocca was swallowed up between the Castra exempta. 

Later on, under the policy of castles, towns, counties and properties donations, committed by Charles I of Anjou on behalf of those who had supported the conquest of the Kingdom, in 1269 the fortress of Rocca Montis Dragonis, was awarded to Philip, King of Thessaly for its strategic military value, and throughout the Angevin kingdom, his possession returned to the policy of radical renewal of feudality, which included the appointment of France and Provence holders to the highest secular and ecclesiastical dignitaries. In the mid-fifteenth century, during the conflict between Angevins and Aragonese for the conquest of the kingdom, the Rocca, which was at that time one of the most important strongholds of the Duchy of Sessa, is besieged by the troops of King Ferdinand I of Aragon, and subsequently in 1461 was granted to the Carafa family.

In the current state of investigations, it is possible to recognize an important restoring phase that involved the buildings of the hilltop plateau during the 14th and 15th century, characterized by a radical reuse of architectural structures and by the new featuring of the fortifications, with the construction of a large building, known as the” residential palace”. Important finds are the potteries and the numismatic evidence, and the metal and vitreous artefacts discovered in the excavation areas; imported ceramic production, as enamelled polychrome vessels, gave evidences of significant economic exchanges between the fortified settlement and the sites of central Italy. All the buildings investigated up to now on the hilltop plateau and in the first village, were probably in use until the 16th century, when the collapse of the roofs obliterates them, being the cause of the desertion of the entire settlement.

 

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