Located in the Basilicata region, Italy, Sassi di Matera are two districts known for their ancient cave dwellings that have been continuously inhabited for at least 9000 years. The site comprises houses, churches, hermitages, and monasteries carved into the natural caves of the Murgia plateau. There are over one thousand dwellings and numerous workshops, covering an area of 1,016 ha.
The cave dwellings show evidence of continuous occupation from the Paleolithic period until the mid-20th century. Nevertheless, the population was relocated in the 1950s to improve sanitation conditions and renovate the caves. People returned to their homes in the 1980s, reinvigorating the traditional life in Sassi di Matera.
The oldest dwellings on the site date from at least 7000 BC. There was even a 150,000-year-old human skeleton found in one of the caves, along with Neolithic tools. Nonetheless, there were relatively newer structures such as the Crypt of Original Sin, a secret 9th-century monastery, and a 13th-century Romanesque church between two sassis. Over the centuries, the ancient Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, and some other peoples occupied the Sassi and left traces in the caves. Today, Matera has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.