Archaeologists recently made a groundbreaking discovery, unearthing two extraordinary temples in the historic ancient city of Poseidonia Paestum. These Doric-style temples, found in the western sector near the city walls and a short distance from the sea, provide captivating insights into the rich history of this ancient settlement.
A Glimpse into the Architectural Remains at Paestum
Paestum, originally named Poseidonia, proudly stands on the western coast of southern Italy in the province of Salerno, Campania. This crucial settlement in Magna Graecia, founded around 600 BC by Sybaris settlers, thrived for two centuries before falling under the control of the Lucanians, an Italic tribe, around 400 BC. The Romans later conquered the city in 273 BC, renaming it Paestum.
Enduring Worship Through the Ages
One of the recently discovered temples at the Paestum archaeological site dates back to the early 5th century BC, revealing remarkably well-preserved architectural remnants. Notably, the stylobate, measuring 11.5 x 7.6 meters, showcases four-sided peristatic columns encircling the inner sanctuary, known as the ‘cella.’ Traditionally, the cella served as a sacred space housing a cult image or statue representing the specific deity venerated in the temple.
Tiziana D’Angelo, Director of the Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia, highlighted the significance of these discoveries in reconstructing the archaic history of Poseidonia. The sanctuary, strategically located in a liminal area near the coast, predates the city’s defensive circuit, showcasing the settlers’ foresight during a period of growth and monumentalization.
Paestum’s Cultural and Religious Hub
The archaeological site of Paestum gained renown for preserving three ancient Greek temples, constructed between approximately 550 and 450 BC in the Doric order. Dedicated to the Olympians Hera, Athena, and Poseidon, these temples offer a glimpse into the cultural and religious practices of Poseidonia’s ancient inhabitants.
Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy’s culture minister, expressed that the recent discoveries underscore the ongoing significance of Paestum and the need for further excavations and research. The Ministry of Culture highlights the importance of this find in broadening our understanding of the dynamics and evolution of Doric architecture in Poseidonia and Magna Graecia.
D’Angelo stresses the crucial role of these findings in reconstructing the ancient history of Poseidonia, emphasizing the enduring cultural and religious importance of this exceptional settlement.
The unveiling of these two remarkable temples in Poseidonia Paestum adds layers to our understanding of this ancient city’s history. The archaeological revelations provide a vivid picture of the settlers’ strategic choices, the continuity of worship, and the lasting cultural impact of Poseidonia.