Fornace (kiln) del Mingazzini (Velia)
Not far from the Velia Archaeological Park you can freely visit, in Vasalìa Street, the kiln discovered in 1927 by Professor Paolino Mingazzini who completed the excavation in 1950.
The place where the kiln was built, probably in the 3rd century BC, is not accidental: in this area, in fact, the nearby watercourse Fiumarella, the presence of clay on its banks and the abundance of trees, offered a perfect place for terracotta processing and baking. The kiln was intended primarily to bake bricks.
It was exposed as to take the best advantage from wind currents, as well as all other kilns. The structure consists of two chambers: the lower one, where the combustion process occurred, and the top, where artifacts were stacked and baked. The two chambers are divided by a horizontal partition, with holes that form a kind of grate. The lower part of the kiln includes the mouth and the combustion chamber: the fuel was lit in the mouth but the thermal process developed fully in the combustion chamber from where the heat propagated toward the upper chamber through the perforated floor (supported by arches to bear the raw bricks).
The baking chamber, shaped into a dome, was a temporary structure: it was destroyed and rebuilt each time. The rear area was simply an access (the arch is still visible) intended to accelerate the fire extinguishing and the oven's cooling and cleaning, as Mingazzini himself proposed, excluding the theory of a second access corridor on this side. So the excavations stopped, also because the old structure was already ruined.
The kiln builders made the most of a slight depression of the land and settle the corridor without digging. The entrance to the oven is on the South-facing side in order to maintain the maximum heat. At the time of the excavation only some bricks (today kept in the Museum of Paestum) were found inside the kiln, and they had to be most likely fallen or demolished elements. The grate was very well-preserved, not as much today. The kiln has been little-visited because it is placed outside the perimeter of the Archaeological Park of Elea-Velia; the few economic resources available, moreover, did not permit a constant maintenance of this structure.
The G.A.V (Gruppo Archeologico Velino), with the authorization of the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage of Salerno, Avellino, Benevento and Caserta and thanks to the help and supervision of the Director of the Archaeological Park of Elea-Velia, has cleaned the entire area around the kiln, now protected by a fence and equipped with an explanatory panel.
Reach La fornace (use the map above):
A little further the entrance to the Velia Archaeological Park you will find the petrol station "IES/MagnaGraecia”. Go under the overpass behind the petrol station and continue for few kilometres following the direction to the Fornace.
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