La Starza – Italy - Atlas Obscura

La Starza

This site marks the oldest known settlement in Campania, inhabited around 9,000 years ago. 

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Dating back to the Neolithic Age, La Starza is the oldest known settlement in Campania. To the untrained eye, all that remains of the hamlet today are unrecognizable ruins in the middle of the countryside—a rocky formation overlooking a spring—but the site is, in fact, a cache of ancient pottery, earthenware, animal and plant remains, and metal artifacts.

The settlement was erected nearly 9,000 years ago and was continuously inhabited for eight millennia— throughout the Neolithic Age, Iron Age, and Bronze Age—until its eventual abandonment around 900 B.C. Among the many artifacts unearthed here were decorated ceramics and majolica dating back to a period between the 16th and 14th centuries B.C. Curiously, the nearby town of Ariano Irpino is renowned for its ceramic production to this day—and many have hypothesized that La Starza’s ceramic artifacts offer evidence that this tradition has been 4,000 years in the making. Artifacts used in metalworking and farming have also been discovered here, along with animal remains, a sign that agriculture was central to the settlement. Human remains have also been found on the nearby mountain pass, Sella di Ariano, a possible millennia-old necropolis. 41.2391143

Know Before You Go

To get to La Starza, follow the SS90 Bis delle Puglie road between Casalbore and Savignano Irpino.