Complesso Rupestre San Giorgio Matera


audio and description


At this point, turning your gaze towards the entrance, you can see how the excavated part adjoins and extends towards the outside, the constructed part of the San Giorgio underground complex, with a characteristic barrel-vaulted architecture known as “lamione.” The lamione is a single-space structure illuminated by a single opening that, reproducing the morphology of the underground dwelling, transforms the original cave into an above-ground construction, the matrix of every type of dwelling.

The central body is the oldest part of this complex, probably excavated around the year 1000, to house the Rock Church of San Giorgio, which unfortunately is now barely recognizable due to significant modifications undergone by the site as a result of its various reuses. On the floor, on the right and left, you can see the remains of a rocky partition on which a dividing wall once stood, likely coinciding with the iconostasis of the original Church of San Giorgio.

A little further ahead, still facing the entrance, there is a circular incision about 3 meters in diameter and 80 cm deep. It was the housing for the base of the olive press or oil millstone. The wide incision was filled with earth when the oil mill fell into disuse, so during the last recent restoration, it appeared homogeneous with the floor. The presence of an erosion groove all around the incision, presumably carved by the daily trampling of the mule that operated the rotation lever of the millstone, led to excavation and the rediscovery of the oil mill housing. Just above the circular incision, you can see the cavities for the wooden supporting structure of the ancient olive press. On the left side of the incision, two circular holes can be seen, their walls covered in cocciopesto. They are likely two dolia for storing oil. Of the two, the one closer to the observer was later transformed into a cistern and equipped with a water supply channel. On the right wall, corresponding to the niche, the conduit can be clearly seen. In its initial section, it develops vertically and then continues on the floor, through a gutter made of shaped tuff blocks.

Turning towards the back wall, still beyond the millstone incision, on the right, another cistern can be seen, but it lacks water supply channels, possibly used as a reservoir for oil. The small spout shows marks from the cut for a metal cover. On the right wall, before the spout, there used to be a plastered basin, a possible silo for storing olives.

Turning again towards the entrance, beyond the two dolia and on the left wall, the remains of cocciopesto can be seen, which once lined two grape-pressing vats. These can be attributed to the period when the cave was converted into a cellar, presumably between the mid-1600s and the early 1700s. The two vats, carved from a single stone block, fell out of use when wine production ceased. They were dismantled and reduced to tuff blocks for reuse when needed.