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History
The archaic archaeological sites
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The ruralisation of the territory, the monastic settlements, the Saracen invasions
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You are Here: Home > Where to go > History > The ruralisation of the territory, the monastic settlements, the Saracen invasions
The ruralisation of the territory, the monastic settlements, the Saracen invasions Printable versionPrintable version
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The ruralisation of the territory, the monastic settlements, the Saracen invasions
The disintegration of the Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions had as their first consequence the almost complete disappearance of the cities in the forms known until then. There was a profound ruralisation of the territory, characterised, additionally, by a great lack of technology and by the progressive impoverishment due to famine, epidemics, wars and invasions. This ruralisation extended even into the few urban centres that remained: inside the city walls gardens, orchards and fields of cereals were cultivated.

The reticular and radiocentric system of the cities was then substituted by a dusty and capillary system, composed of a myriad of these small nucleuses, prevalently located around the pre-existing Roman villas. Contemporarily, in a few villages, prevalently owned by the upper-class, new agricultural systems were organised. Gradually, large estates and extensive agriculture began to develop. The landscape was transformed from one of gardens into a great extension of forests, pastures and sown fields, interrupted only by small cultivated plots used by the shepherds.

The slow decay in agriculture left room for the growth of spontaneous vegetation. From the 9th century on, the greatest advocates of living in grottoes were the Basilian monks, who spread their monachism based on hermitage in a capillary way. Their settlements became further points of reference for the people of the countryside. The laymen, following in their footsteps, founded the so-called rural houses. There is much evidence of the Basilian monks, in particular the monkish complexes called "Laure", which were dug out of the tufa and often painted with frescos, which are spread throughout the territory.

Another important element of aggregation was added with the foundation, in this area, of complexes of Benedictine monks. The abbey of Saint Mary of the Mount in Balneolo was famous. It was destroyed to make space for Castel del Monte. Trustees of the great ecclesiastic wealth, the monks perfected new techniques of agricultural management and the use of new technologies.

A final fundamental contribution, in these centuries of great influx of distant peoples, came from the Saracen invasions which gradually, above all in the hinterland, introduced new crops (mulberry for silk, sugar-cane, aubergines, pistachios and citrus fruit) and new irrigation systems. Gradually, specialised crops typical of the Mediterranean garden were added to the forests and pastures.
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