Monday, October 11, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Puglia

Puglia is known as the heel of the Italian stivale, boot, bordered by Campania, Basilicata, and Molise. It is perhaps one of the richest parts of Italy in terms of archaeological sites. In 1999, just outside of the town of Altamura, in the De Lucia Quarry, discoveries of Europe's, and perhaps the world's, largest finding of dinosaur footprints were uncovered. The footprints were exposed by rainfall, uncovering a 12,000 square meter area comprised of at least 4,000 footprints. After examining the finds, scientists revealed that there were 200 dinosaurs responsible for the prints, and were of 5 different species. They were so perfectly preserved that the folds in the animals' skin can be seen! They were dated back to about 70 million years ago.

In 1993, a complete skeleton of a man dating back 130,000 years ago was found in the Lamalunga cave. At some point, the man had been trapped inside the cave, and met his demise. Also found in the are were different species of animals and fauna.

Fast forwarding to the 1st millenium BC, the region was settled by the Illyric and Italic peoples. For thousands of years, there was a constant struggle over the lands of Southern Italy.

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