Some elements would suggest that the legendary son of King Uther Pendragon, passed through Puglia … In the archivolt, called the Lion’s Gate, of the 12th century Basilica of Saint Nicolas in Bari you can see the sovereign with his knights of the Round Table.
The scene represented in the entire archivolt tells the story of a siege of a castle that has nothing to do with religious worship.
What is most disconcerting is that the first to spread the story of the Arthurian king was Chrétien de Troyes in the 12th century. But the legend arrived in Italy a century later while the Basilica was built in 1087 when some merchants brought the remains of the saint, 700 years earlier the Christian bishop of Myra.
How then is such an advance possible? There was already an oral tradition that Chretien limited himself to writing. But why in the archivolt of the basilica?
Traces of King Arthur are also found in Otranto, a port of great importance in the Middle Ages from where the fleets strated to reach the Holy Land. The city is also sadly famous for the massacre carried out by the Turks in 1480 who killed the bishop, the clergy and the people and beheaded the 800 survivors who have gone down in history as the Martyrs of Otranto. The ossuaries of the victims are kept in the chapel of the martyrs in the cathedral, on the central floor of which the tree of life is depicted.
King Arthur is also present in the mosaic. Made by Brother Pantaleone between 1163 and 1165, it places the king among the Old Testament’s characters, with the scepter, the crown and pointed shoes. Why did Pantaleone insert the British king there? Perhaps because at that time the king even represented the search for the Grail. The myth of the Grail is frequent in Breton literature for it was considered one of the greatest ideals of chivalry, but why is it so present also in Apulia?
In the mosaic King Arthur fights with a cat. Following the legend to find the Grail you had to be pure and according to some authors of the Middle Ages, the king was not so he was attacked by the cat of Lausanne, one of the symbols of evil. But in the mosaic King Arthur is thrown and killed by the cat while above the king there is a naked character, symbol of pure man. It could be Gilead, son of Lancelot and Guinevere who according to tradition will conquer the Grail.
But there is another question: the date of construction of the mosaic ( between 1163 and 1165) makes it clear that the Breton history was already far-reaching at the end of the 12th century and reached remote lands from the places of origin. An incredibly short amount of time.
Porto Badisco, near Otranto, according to the myth, the first shore touched by Aeneas in his escape from Troy. Here is the Grotta dei Cervi, discovered only in 1970.
Inside speleologists found rock paintings of the first inhabitants of the area who lived there 6 millennia ago, according to archaeological ricostructions. Studies on wall lasted more than 10 years and stated these paintings as
“the most important and qualitatively most impressive post-paleolithic wall painting art complex known in Europe […] enclosed in a single cave“.
The red and black paintings depict hunting scenes, deer and other signs of difficult interpretation. The place is not officially open to the public so as not to disturb the particular microclimate of the cave and thus preserve the paintings. Among the pictograms there is one that depicts a cruciform celestial body with a sort of cockpit in the center and elsewhere hominids with their weapons who destroy villages and kidnap the inhabitants.
What do these signs mean? What ancient memory do they tell? Is the closure of the cave linked to the desire to keep these paintings hidden? The speleologist Isidoro Mattioli who was among the group of discoverers returned to the cave other times to never return because, he says, during the explorations he heard the roar of rolling stones and the sound of drums.
The legend of the Shaman of Messapia
A new legend inflated by followers of extraterrestrial theories tells that 5 millenia ago, the same period of paintings, the Salento was a lush and mysterious land, rich in water and life, of immense forests with huge tall trees and a fertile undergrowth populated by wild boars, deer and magnificent moose. The planetary assembly of the gods met periodically near the sulfur springs, generated by the disintegration of the bodies of the Titans, massacred by Heracles with the help of Zeus. Every hundred years, a great multitude of picturesque deities discussed the problems and destinies of humanity. The result of each meeting of the planetary divinities was fixed on ideograms and pictograms impressed on the walls of the main caves along the coast.
During the first assembly of the fifth millennium BC they decided the fate of the weaver Aracne and the Shaman of Messapia (probably portrayed in this pictogram), who were confined into the Grotta dei Cervi. The Messapian Shaman was a beautiful and very intelligent man, who wanted to refute the methods and treatments of the god Asclepius.
He proposed to obtain healing from illness and even to guarantee the resurrection of death with the help of faithful snakes and the magical effect of the blood of the Medusa, the Gorgon, which he had exchanged for his own with the help of Athena.
Asclepius, in revenge, proposed to wall him alive in the Grotta dei Cervi . But Arachne, who loved the shaman, offered him a huge polygonal canvas as a gift, which would be used to shelter from the cold and humidity of the cave. When Asclepius learned of this, he reached the cave angry, horribly deforming the shaman’s features and fixing him like a pictogram on the cave walls; moreover, the furious divinity reduced the cloth lovingly woven by Arachne to a thousand pieces and deposited his apparently useless rags (zinzuli) in a cave to the south, which for this reason took the name of Grotta Zinzulusa.
If this seems to be only a legend, we suggest you to have a look on the many pictograms and paintings in many caves whose signs remember Ufo and spacecraft and peolple with an helmet. To be continued…
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