Summer School ‘The Messapians: epigraphy, language, archaeology, history’

In July, the Summer School I Messapi. Epigraphy, language, archaeology, history, in collaboration with the University of Salento with the involvement of scholars from the Department of Cultural Heritage, under the scientific direction of Dr. Simona Marchesini and Dr. Giovanni Mastronuzzi.

The lessons were held partly online (on Zoom) for the frontal lectures, dedicated to the study of the history of the Messapi, the analysis of Greek and Latin texts, and the archaeology of the Messapi, with a focus on linguistics. The second part took place in the field, with various activities at the museums of Alezio and Vaste, and in the archaeological area of Monte d’Elia in Alezio. This part was realised thanks to the contribution of the Municipality of Alezio, the support of the City of Poggiardo and the mayors Andrea Barone and Antonio Ciriolo. At the Monte d’Elia necropolis, participants analysed the tombs with inscriptions.

This was the first Summer School dedicated to the study of Messapic civilisation, which was enthusiastically attended by young Italian and foreign scholars from universities such as Oxford, Harvard, Paris-Sorbonne, Ghent, Athens, Milan, Florence, Siena, Rome and Bari.

11-15 July (Online lectures – Zoom)

18-22 July (Field exercises and participation in the excavation of Aletium (Lecce)

Alteritas – Interaction between Peoples and the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Lecce are organising a Summer School on Messapic and Messapia with the possibility of participating in an archaeological excavation during the month of July.

Aim and subject of the school

The initiative aims to promote the study of the ancient Messapians, one of the pre-Roman populations, settled in Regio Apulia et Calabria (modern Apulia), who left written documents from the 6th century B.C. until the time of Romanisation during the 2nd century B.C. The Messapic language, one of the fragmentary languages of ancient Italy, is known to date from around 650 inscriptions. Many new texts are emerging from the Grotta della Poesia, a karstic cavity near the sea, frequented since prehistoric times, on whose walls the ancients have left thousands of inscriptions. At the end of the course, students will be able to move independently on the issues and study of the Messapic world, they will be able to read and transcribe inscriptions, develop an epigraphic database, have notions of cartography and learn the techniques of excavation and archaeological and epigraphic survey.


The summer school is based on the principle of multidisciplinarity for the study of ancient peoples. Inscriptions cannot be satisfactorily understood if the historical and archaeological context of reference is not framed. The methodological approach therefore provides for several disciplines to be offered to the students to understand Messapic and the Messapians: ar- cheology, history, epigraphy, linguistics, numismatics. These theoretical subjects will be complemented by heuristic and technical tools for the study of ancient peoples: construction of an epigraphic/linguistic database, cartography, archaeological excavation methodology, epigraphic and archaeological survey.

Organisation of the school

The first part of the course will be offered online on the Zoom platform. Lessons will be held in Italian. Some didactic tools (bibliography, survey sheets, alpha-beta tables) will be made available to the students. The second part of the course will be held in presence in Alezio, an ancient Messapian city that offered one of the most substantial and rich epigraphic corpora in Apulia. The excavation currently underway, directed by Prof. Giovanni Mastronuzzi of the University of Salento, concerns the city’s ancient necropolis. During the week in attendance, exercises will also be offered on the classification and study of finds and archaeological surveying. Accommodation will be provided in flats with B&B treatment. The municipality of Alezio will provide breakfast and lunch for the students. The overall cost also includes the transfer from Alezio to Poggiardo (Vaste) for a one-day excursion and epigraphic exercise. The number of participants for the second part of the school is limited to 12 for health and logistical reasons. A selection will be made on the basis of students’ CVs and qualifications.


The cost is differentiated according to participation in one or both parts of the course. 1. Participation in the first part of the online course: 70€
2. Participation in the first and second part of the course: 240€
3. Participation in both sections without accommodation: 160€

Residents will be allowed to attend the first or both sessions at a cost of 50 and 100€ respectively.

University Formative Credits

Those who have attended the entire Summer School will be awarded 4 training credits. 2 credits will be awarded for attending only the online theoretical part.


The following deadlines are envisaged
5 May 2022: registration deadline
20 May: payment of registration fee

School enrolment

To register for the school, please complete the following online form (Google Forms) attaching a copy of your CV by 5 May 2022. By 10 May, confirmation of acceptance of enrolment will be given and the details for payment of the enrolment fee will be provided. For further information please write to .

Summer School organised to support the institutional activity of the Association.

Online theory session programme

Monday 11 July
9.00-9.30 Welcome, greetings and introduction (S. Marchesini) 9.30-11.30 Prehistory and Protohistory of Apulia (R. Scarano) 16.00-17.00 The Greek alphabets in Southern Italy (G. Boffa) 17.00-18.00 The Messapic alphabet (S. Marchesini)

Tuesday 12 July
9.00-11.00 Epigraphy and Language I. Alphabetic and phonological aspects (S. Marchesini) 16.00-17.00 Archaeology of the Messapi I. Iron Age (G. Semeraro) 17.00-18.00 Literary sources on the Messapi (F. Frisone)

Wednesday 13th July
9.00-10.00 How to construct an epigraphic DB (C. Girardi)
10.00-11.00 Archaeology of the Messapi II. Archaic Age (G. Mastronuzzi)
16.00-17.00 Epigraphy and language II. Messapian description and onomastic system (S. Marchesini) 17.00-18.00 Numismatics (G. Sarcinelli)

Thursday 14 July
9.00-11.00 Epigraphy and Language III: Epigraphic survey and reading of inscriptions (S. Marchesini) 16.00-18.00 Archaeology of the Messapi III. Hellenistic Age (G. Mastronuzzi).

Friday 15 July
9.00-11.00 Cartography applied to archaeology and epigraphy (V. Dell’Aquila – G. Vizzino) 11.00-12.00 Archaeological survey (I. Ferrari)
16.00-18.00 Methodology of archaeological excavation (F. Solinas)

Programme of the practical field session

Monday 18 July
7.00-12.30 Welcome and visit to the excavation of Alezio
17.30-19.30 Epigraphic exercise. The survey of the inscriptions, the compilation of the epigraphic card (Museum of Alezio)

Tuesday 19th July
8.30am Departure for Vaste (Poggiardo). Visit to the excavation and the Museum Epigraphic exercise at the Museum of Poggiardo
18.30 Return to Alezio

Wednesday 20th July
7.00-12.30 Excavation in Alezio
17.30-19.30 Archaeological materials exercise

Thursday 21 July
7.00-12.30 Excavation in Alezio
17.30-19.30 Archaeological survey and documentation exercise

Friday 22 July
7.00-12.30 Excavation in Alezio and conclusion of the school

PDF Programme