The area around Melfi and the Ofanto river has traces of inhabitants dating back to Neolithic times. The city of Melfi positioned at the foot of Mount Vulture remained inhabited through the ages, gaining importance in the middle ages when it became the Norman Capital of Southern Italy. The city was involved in several wars and revolts until becoming a wealthy trading city under the Orange and Doria families. Several Acropoli and Necropoli dating between the VIII and V centuries BC can be found in the area. Artefacts from this period found on the Cappuccini and Valleverde hills are now housed inside the castle, also home to the Museum of Archaeology and the sarcophagus of Asian origin dating back to the II century BC. The history of Melfi is concentrated around the castle which dominates the walled city in which the citizens, artisans and soldiers lived. The castle is considered one of the most beautiful of the ex-kingdom of Naples, emerging from the rock face on the top of a hill (531m above sea level). It was later enlarged by Frederic II of Swabia who commissioned the cistern and tower as well as the courtyard behind the building, where in 1231 the Costituitiones Augustales were written. The main Duomo, built in 1076 by ‘Il Guiscardo” Duke of Apulia and Calabria,  and rebuilt in baroque style after the earthquake of 1694 is also noteworthy, as is the wooden crucifix contained inside.