The origins of the Daunia civilization and the early Iron Age

The term “Daunia civilization” can be used legitimately only starting from the 1st Iron Age up to the 4th century B.C. and it refers to that civilization that developed in northern Puglia, by the Dauni, similar but different from the Peucezi and Messapi, who settled in central and southern Puglia.

Towards the late Bronze Age (11th-10th centuries B.C.) Illyrian populations from the eastern coast of the Adriatic arrived in Puglia. These groups of population, united with the pre-existing people and groups from the Aegean, probably from Crete, created the Iapygian civilization, from which three cultures developed: the Daunia, Peucezia and Messapica.

The settlements were of two types: fortressed on hills that were difficult to reach, as in the Gargano, and settlements in the plain. The habitations were formed of cabins, with the floor in beaten earth and raised on structures of wooden stakes, covered in straw branches, made waterproof with layers of clay (examples in Salapia).

A characteristic of the Dauni was their custom to bury their dead in a crouched position, lying on their side (from their origins up to the beginning of the 3rd century B.C., in full Roman times).

There were four types of tomb: a pit in the form of a pyramid trunk excavated out of the rock and covered with stone slabs (Gargano); a simple pit in the ground, covered with pebbles; a tumulus tomb, or one made of a pit tomb surrounded by a circle of stones that bordered the bundle of stones above; an enchythrismos tomb, where the dead person was laid in a large recipient. The latter, very widespread, was reserved for newborn babies.