Archaeological information

In tracing the origins of the scientific community's interest in the Monte Poro area, we have to go back to the first studies, conducted by the archeologist from Trento, Paolo Orsi, in the first 20 years of the last century. Orsi directed many excavations, including two very intensive excavations at Torre Galli, near Drapia. Here he managed to identify more than 300 burials, almost all pit burials, dating to the period between the 9th and 6th C BC (Iron Age).

Subsequently, the passion of a number of local enthusiasts, and the creation of several Archeological Groups, contributed, in collaboration with the Superintendency, to a systematic collation of the finds made between the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1980s. These were chance finds that came to light during construction work, excavations at quarries, and work on infrastructure. ( However, focusing on the rock dwellings, we should note that the first studies focusing on Zungri came thanks to Prof. Minuto, in 1977, and later Prof. Solano, in 1998.

More recently, as of 2000, the Medieval Archeology dept of the University of Calabria devoted a research sector to a study of cave sites in Calabria in the medieval period.

In particular, an archeological investigation and field survey was conducted at Zungri (VV) (in 2006-2007) along the northern side of the valley of the Malopara, a seasonal stream. The survey made it possible to identify a number of distinctive features of the settlement system: dwelling areas and common spaces appear aligned along a number of main thoroughfares, with offshoots which, together, constitute the connecting tissue of the habitat. Overall, the network of roads and paths allowed links both with the area of level ground above, today partially occupied by the modern town of Zungri, and with the bottom of the valley, where there is fertile, cultivated land. As well as actual dwellings, other features and structures designed for farming and livestock were found along the various transportation routes, together with cisterns to collect water, and these are the subject of archeological excavations. 


Fig.1 Zungri (VV),Three-dimensional model of the area investigated, showing the internal paths (α, β, γ, δ) (graphic by V. Lopresti)



From this point, continuing south, up a slight incline, “path α” led to a fully-expanding sector of the site, with more scattered rock-dwellings, as far as a secondary and less monumental entrance, called the “South-East Gate”: the remains of this access to the site can still be seen, despite the construction excavations and transformations which have radically altered this sector of the cave site in the last 30 years. At a point above the central sector of the cave site, two other routes were possible: a shorter one (“path γ”) acted as a link between the main cave-dwellings; and a longer one (“path δ“) probably indicated an early direction of expansion to the south, at a higher level toward the flat ground above, which was certainly already being used for farming purposes.

This last route made it possible to reach a one-chamber rock dwelling, isolated and situated high up, now standing near an Enel (electricity) pylon. Along the way, one can also see caves which were never completely excavated. However, the clear extension of the rock site toward the flat land, where the modern town of Zungri now stands, took place along a steep road heading north-east (“path β”). This negotiated considerable changes in altitude, and led to the area of the church of the Madonna della Neve.

Along this axis, which features some long series of steps, bordered by small channels to led rainwater drain off, one can see numerous dwellings made partly by excavating the solid rock, but also with large portions built using stone blocks. In other words, this is the most “modern” part of the habitat, and testifies to the decline, at Zungri, of the practice of living in caves. (Coscarella, Bruno 2007)