In Basilicata there is evidence of powerful ancient civilizations. Lucanians, Greeks and Romans left traces in the whole territory but there is also evidence of the earlier Paleolithic period in Venosa, the Neolithic settlements in Murgia near Matera, and Bronze Age and Iron Age with items and funeral objects in the Museums in Matera and Policoro. The Greeks, however, have left the most profound traces: the Tavole Palatine still survive from ancient Metaponto and in the Archaeological Park of Apollo Licio there are the remains of four sacred buildings.
A notable series of Romanesque churches and mighty castles bear witness to the Swabian period. A worthy representative of these constructions is the Basilica of Acerenza, with its Romanesque and Gothic forms. The Abbey of Venosa preserves compelling evidence of the influence exerted by the various conquering populations who have succeeded each other throughout the centuries in Lucania. Fused together here are elements from the Roman, Byzantine, Longobard, Norman and Baroque ages. Many abbeys, monasteries and convents stand in open countryside. One of these, the earlier Norman Castle of Tricarico that in 17th century became the convent of Santa Chiara, houses wonderful pictorial works of art.
In Basilicata there are many wonderful castles standing against the perfect background of untouched natural surroundings. The most well-known is Melfi Castle, built originally by the Normans in the 12th century and later enlarged by the Swabians and the Anjou dynasty. Pope Urban II began preaching the first crusade here, and in 1231 the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II issued the Constitutiones Regni; the anti-feudal Constitutions of Melfi which centralized authority in Sicily.