The dolmen of San Silvestri lies approximately 6 kilometres outside the town of Giovinazzo in Puglia in Southern Italy. It was discovered in 1961.
Roughly 4000 years ago people living on the Adriatic coast built a series of megalithic graves. Efive of these have been discovered in the hills between the modern coastal towns of Trani and Giovinazzo. Archaeological research has shown that they remained in use for several hundred years. The five sites are San Silvestri, Paladini, Chianca, Albarosa and Frisari. Megalithic monuments have also been found in a few places further south.
All five dolmens here are built in the same way. The entrance is a long narrow passage built with large stones (uprights and capstones) and at the end is a space for the grave. The tombs were covered with a mound made of earth and stones. The entrance of this monument is at least 16 metres long and no wider than 90 cm.
Unfortunately the dolmens in the north of Puglia were only belatedly recognised as megalithic graves during the 20th century. Up until then they had been used by farmers as shelters for cattle. For that reason, hardly any objects have been found here.
It is true that pottery from the Mycaenan empire was found in the dolmen of San Silvestro in 1961. That happened by chance while a farmer was removing part of the dolmen with a bulldozer to lay a track.
Since then 9 adult bodies have been found during excavations as well as two teenagers and two children.
Text Harrie Wolters
Translation Alun Harvey