Roca Vecchia (Lecce)

Roca Archaeological Survey

Picture of the entrance to the Grotta della Poesia

Archaeological mission coordinator/director

Francesco Iacono

Research Area and ERC Panels

  • Archaeology from pre and proto history to medieval age
  • SH6 The Study of the Human Past: Archaeology and history

Starting date of the campaign and duration

The mission has been active since 2019. Survey campaigns usually take place in June or September.


The project is part of a larger project called “Landscapes of Mobility and Memory” funded by the Montalcini program of the MIUR. The geographical context of the project is the area of the current town of Roca / S. Foca, in the countryside of the modern municipality of Melendugno (LE). This area has been a node of interaction and long-term mobility in a period that certainly goes back to the second millennium BC. In this period the fortified settlement of Roca Vecchia, which presents some of the most important evidence for monumental protohistoric architecture in Italy (for more information see, was the most important port in relation to trade with the Aegean-Mycenaean world with the central Mediterranean. The site also has an extensive ancient city and dates to the same period most of the epigraphic evidence found in the Grotta della poesia nerby the site a sanctuary-cave on the walls of with hundreds of inscriptions. In the medieval period a Norman citadel was founded while in the post-medieval times, the whole eastern Salento is affected by the settlement of people who used the Grika language and who had considerable relations with the transnational world from a religious, cultural and economic point of view. Adriatic. Finally, in the early 2000s when S. Foca / Melendugno were at the center of the very first post-Cold War migratory flows. The project also includes a petrographic and ethnographic study conducted in the same area.
The fieldwork is conducted with innovative paperless methods developed specifically for this project. For more information you can visit the project website.
Permission to conduct surface research was granted by the Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto, in May 2019.

Information for students

Accommodation and meals are usually provided. The mission's activities include also a laboratory aimed at the preliminary quantification the study of the finds. For information, please contact


Guglielmino, R. 2006. ‘Roca Vecchia (Lecce): New Evidence for Aegean Contacts with Apulia During the Late Bronze Age . Accordia Research Papers 10: 87–102.

Güll, P., ed. 2008. Roca Nel Basso Medioevo. Strutture Abitative e Cultura Materiale Di Un Centro Urbano Dell’Adriatico Meridionale. Archeologia Medievale 35: 381–427.

Iacono, F. 2015. Feasting at Roca: Cross-Cultural Encounters and Society in the Southern Adriatic during the Late Bronze Age. European Journal of Archaeology 18 (2): 259–81.

Iacono, F., V. Spagnolo, W. De Neef, and L. Coluccia. 2020. Roca Archaeological Survey: Inquadramento e Primissimi Risultati. FOLD&R Archaeological Survey Series 2020 (13): 1–14.

Pagliara, C. 1987. La Grotta Di Poesia (Melendugno-Lecce). Note Preliminari. Annali Della Scuola Normale Superiore Di Pisa 17: 267–328.

Scarano, T. 2012. Roca I. Le Fortificazioni Della Media Età Del Bronzo. Foggia: C. Grenzi.


The archaeological site of Roca Vecchia


Picture of the entrance to the Grotta della Poesia

Grotta della Poesia in Roca Vecchia

The cave is part of a complex of caves with extensive epigraphic evidence (Wikimedia image)

Picture of survey activities

Surveying on the field

Maps showing the area of the Roca Archaeological Survey

Area of the Roca Archaeological Survey