Molise is the youngest Italian region, constituted as an autonomous administrative entity from Abruzzo in 1963. In reality, its history is much older. The earliest evidence of the territory dates back to the lower Paleolithic period, to 600,000 years ago as evidenced by the research conducted in the archaeological site of Isernia La Pineta (Isernia). This a key site for the understanding of the first human groups that populated the European continent. In 2014, a tooth belonging to one of our ancestors of 5-6 years was found. At the current state of research, his tooth is one of the oldest human remains found in Italy.
Later, during the second millennium BC, Indo-European populations occupied the Italian peninsula in several waves and in the territory today attributable to Molise the Samnite people established, a strong and independent population that put a strain on the nascent Roman force. Mountain fortifications, sanctuaries and necropolises remain from the Samnite era, but the most eloquent evidence is the archaeological area of Pietrabbondante, a federal sanctuary for all the Samnite tribes.
Molise then suffers the fate of the rest of Italy: absorbed by the Roman Empire, in the Augustan age the territory is assigned to the Regio IV called Sabina et Samnium. Of the Roman phase, the archaeological site of Saepinum is the most significant and impressive example: a typical Roman city, small and well preserved, surrounded by turreted walls and equipped with typical urban structures, such as forum, basilica, theater, thermal baths, temples, houses, shops.
The long medieval epoch, a phase of progressive economic and demographic decline, was characterized by invasions and foreign dominations: at the end of the 6th century AD, the territory became part of the Longobard Duchy of Benevento, contended by the Franks of Charlemagne, and then passed under the rule of the Normans from the end of the 11th century. After undergoing several changes in the Angevin and Aragonese period, in the 16th century it was adjoined to the Capitanata (corresponding to the today’s province of Foggia).
In the 16th century the history of Molise shared the fate of that of the other regions of southern Italy: in fact it became part of the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, led by several foreign families. The Bourbons dominated from 1735 to 1860, with a brief Napoleonic period between 1806 and 1815 when, under the French occupation, the Molise was detached from the Capitanata and became an autonomous province.
Finally, in 1963, Molise became an autonomous region.