Palazzo Castromediano-Vernazza is in Pellegrino’s square. According to historical sources, the architecture of the building has a central core built in the late 1400s with a tower from which you held as a watch tower, thesis postulated by the nearby Porta San Biagio, one of the three gates in the old walls of the Lupiae (today Lecce).
To this are associated residential and decorative elements – that recall motifs candelabra, ie a plant that grows vertically with bay leaves and representing the agave flower. The plant in Christian symbolism represents the passion of Christ and his rise from the earthly world to the heavenly one. Along with such ornaments we also find shells, symbol of rebirth. Almost guarding the decorations there is a cornice supported by corbels featured zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and vegetable.
The restoration work conducted from 2004 to 2008 made it possible to put back on track the palace, making some changes with the opening of new doors and windows , the masonry walls and remakes of some of the beautiful coffered wood ceilings that are found in some of the rooms on three levels. The most interesting aspect unearthed by archaeologists is the staircase leading to the basement where there are the remains of the TEMPLE OF ISIDE (Isis) whose presence was only hypothesized and learned from texts that told of merchants who came to bring a tribute to the goddess of fertility and motherhood. Among the various gifts of food, spices and furnishings, there were inscriptions and coins.
One of these inscriptions, Tiberinius Isidi (Tiberius dedicated to Isis) was found during excavations in the palace, along with the head of a statue of the goddess that was to be kept in the cell of the temple dedicated to the deity. Another important finding is that the PURGATORIUM, ie pay a baptistery containing a niche with water to be used for the purification of the body before they can enter the temple. Part of the remains found in the temple, columns, capitals and Doric cornices, are kept in a room, along with other Roman and Messapian.
The messapica presence, already certified in the Salento history, is made even more evident by a fragment of a road axis, visible from the building through a glass plate floor. Excavations have unearthed pottery from Libya and Tunisia, an important testimony of the commercial and artistic exchanges between the Salento and the countries of other continents.
CEREMONIAL WORSHIP AND OFFERS
The name ISIDE or ISIS, come out from Latin. The name of the Goddess was represented by two hieroglyphs: the chair (AS) and bread (T). To ensure that the goddess would hear the devout prayers were preparing loaves round at the center of which was traced the shape of human ears or small sandwiches crescent-shaped because of its lunar connotations. Honey was often used in the offers as an ingredient in incense and medicines.
During the first centuries of the Roman Empire, the food offered to the gods was not different from that prepared and served in the era houses (boiled or roasted meats, pastries, eggs, cakes, fruits, wine, grain or legume soups). During the ritual practices of the followers foresaw both the food offer, both the purification ceremonies and libations. These artifacts, simple tools devoid of artistic value – pans, dishes, incense burners, jugs, cups (dating from between the first and fourth century A.C.) – have a special meaning when found inside a Roman Sanctuary.
In fact, closely linked at the time of sacrifice, the preparation of the consecrated food and their exposition to the venerated deities. Every place of worship had its own set of furnishings and functional tools the performance of sacred ceremonies (sacred suppellex), while others were ornaments (votive offerings). Areas and canteens votive absolved two central moments of the cult: the sacrifice and devotion. While on the areas took place the sacrifice, the altars in the shape of the table (or sacrae augustae mensae) served to lay the food, fruits, sweets; offers and gifts of all kinds (mensae, donaria). Prayer to the deity was always accompanied by an offer.