The area of what is now Matera has been settled since the Palaeolithic. The city was allegedly founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, with the name of Matheola after the consul Lucius Caecilius Metellus. In AD 664 Matera was conquered by the Lombards and became part of the Duchy of Benevento. In the 7th and 8th centuries the nearby grottos were colonized by both Benedictine and Basilian monastic institutions. The 9th and 10th centuries were characterized by the struggle between the Byzantines and the German emperors, including Louis II, who partially destroyed the city. After the settlement of the Normans in Apulia, Matera was ruled by William Iron-Arm from 1043.
The National Archaeological Museum of Matera is the oldest museum of Basilicata. Established in 1911, with a national law, by the will of Senator Domenico Ridola, who donated it to the State its important archaeological collections, presents the important archaeological sites found in the area of Matera.
As for the pre-history, the most significant findings regarding some entrenched villages Neolithic, which was also recognized in this area, starting from the sixth millennium BC, the introduction of agriculture and consequently the structuring of permanent settlements, according to defined templates in the Eastern Mediterranean.
For the most recent phases of prehistory and the phase VI-IV century BC documentation of interest is related to Timmari, located a short drive from Matera. From this center come, among other things, some funeraral objects of the fourth century BC characterized by bronze armor and monumental red-figure vases and numerous votive statues, fine workmanship, found in a sacred area.