Canusium

Canosa, mosaici, basilica di S. Leucio
  • Category - Archaeological sites
  • Country - Italy
  • Region - Puglia
  • Province - Bari
  • Town - Canosa

Address/how to arrive

Canosa is located at km 77,1 of S.S. 97.

You can also reach it by motorway A 16 (Caserta-Bari).

Tourist Information

The basilica of San Leucio is closed for works. You can see the excavations from the external enclosure. To reach it you must take via Aurelio Saffi from piazza Vittorio Veneto, and follow the road to Andria. Then you will can follow the indications on the tourist panels.

The Baptistery of San Giovanni is not far from the town, towards East.

 

Description

At the border between Daunia and Peucezia, Canusium was founded, according to legend, by Diomedes and became one of the main Apulian towns.

In 318 B.C. it was conquered by the roman consul L. Plautius, and became a federated town with the right of coining.

During the war with Hannibal, it was allied with the Romans and it helped the defeated army after the defeat of Canne. It became very important during the III century B.C. , when it was one of the bigger producers of precious wool. 

Under Antoninus Pius (143 A.C.), it became Roman colony and it was named colonia Aurelia Augusta Pia Canusium.

Being located along the via Traiana, which here crossed the Ofanto river, it was rich of monuments: temples, baths, a amphitheatre, tombs.

Canosa, inoltre, fu la più antica diocesi della Puglia. Devastata dalle invasioni barbariche, rifiorì con Longobardi e Bizantini.

Moreover, Canova was the oldest diocese in Puglia. Destroyed by the barbaric invasions, it flourished again under the Longobards and Byzantines. 

Mosaics are saved in different places:

Baptistery of San Giovanni: paleochristian building, to the East of the town. It has central plan, preceded by a nartex with little apses. In the interiors, you can see what remains of the eptagonal baptismal font and interesting tessera mosaics dating to VI century A.C.

During archaeological excavations in 2006, near the baptistery the ruins of a church was discovered. Probably it was divided into three naves, preceded by an entrance hall.
Polychrome mosaics with geometric decoration decorated the floor of the church. Two levels of mosaics have been localised, belonging probably to the original pavement of the church and to a successive phase.

A virtual reconstruction has been realised by Giuliano De Felice: you can see it on the website of the Dipartimento di Scienze umane, Area di Archeologia dell'Università di Foggia (link at the end of the web page).

Basilica of San Leucio: the ruins of the basilica, in a wonderful olive grove, were discovered in 1937. The building is central planned with four apses, once covered by large cupolas. Probably it was built over a former temple of Minerva, mixing roman and byzantine elements. It was destroyed around 1000 a.C. The floor was decorated with larger or smaller mosaic tesseras and polychrome pebbles.

See the image gallery.

Bibliography

  • R. Moreno Cassano, Mosaici paleocristiani di Puglia, "Mélanges de l’École Française de Rome, Antiquité", LXXXVIII, 1 (1976), pp. 280-292.
  • Dipartimento di Scienze umane, Area di Archeologia, Università degli studi di Foggia, Canosa: complesso paleocristiano di San Giovanni (con ampia bibliografia).

 

Canosa, mosaici, basilica di S. Leucio Canosa: Basilica di San Leucio, mosaici Canosa: Battistero di San Giovanni, mosaico a tessere Canosa: Battistero di San Giovanni, mosaici

Linked itineraries

Carta stradale con indicazioni dell'itinerario

Siponto-San Giusto-Canosa: the mosaics in paleochristian complexes

Archaeological, Italy, Puglia, Foggia-Bari

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