The ancient historical center of Matera in Southern Italy is called “Sassi” and it is part of the Unesco Human Heritage. It is partially made by grottoes dug in sandstone and partially made by buildings, built up using the same sandstone. Sandstone outcropping in Matera are part of the Gravina Sandstone geological formation and has interesting technical properties, because weresince easy to be quarried and were also easily workable using by hand tools. So Therefore, it were was largely used as building material. It is a quite weak sandstone, locally called tuff. The strength is quite variable as a function of the grain size of cementation degree and of water content. The compressive strength is between 1 and 4 MPa. The largest quarries dug in Matera since the Medieval period are in the Northern part of the Matera territory. These ancient quarries are visible still today, in as high walls carved with a series of small steps in relief, representing the marks left by the tools during the excavation. The quarrying of sSandstone quarries were developed in as open mine quarries, leaving with high walls, till up to tens of meters. This in contrast with other areas of Puglia, where sandstone outcrops were not extended and quarries developed mainly underground (Altamura or Mottola). The dug of the sandstone was made by hand using a particular type of pick ax with a flat side and one pointed. Several quarries were active until the middle of last century. After the second world war, started the use of machine with saws was introduced, that havethis greatly speeded upboosted the work and the possibility of extraction. In the 50s, with the urban development, quarrying activity was intense, then there was a crisis due to the introduction of the most modern recent construction techniques, like ase reinforced concrete. Today the culture of recovery and of the builtbulding maintenance that has interestedinvolves the whole area of Sassi, has given new impetus to the use of this material. Today in Matera there is only a large quarry and an other large one is in the countryside of Montescaglioso, continuing to provide this material for various uses in construction.
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