They found a priceless treasure in Italy that “could change history”

The stone plinth with access steps and the demarcation of the cell that houses the divinity, f Clay decorations Of the roof colors with lion-shaped leaks, an unusual Gorgon, Animated Aphrodite.

But also Seven heads of bulls are amazingAnd the altar with incised stone to collect the offering liquids and hundreds of previous pictures, including pictures Eros rides a dolphinwhich can be linked to the mythological fantasy of Poseidon, the god who gave the city its name.

In Paestum, SalernoIn southern Italy, work to illuminate the sanctuary discovered in 2019 along the ancient city walls reveals big surprises.

Pattern next to a lion’s head, one of 250 pieces found at Paestum, southern Italy. Photo: EFE

Excavations, as predicted by the director of the Archaeological Park, Tiziana D’Angelo, told the news agency ANSA, which promised “Changing the Known History of Ancient Posidonia”.

Almost like an open window on a 500-year part of a life The city founded by the Greeks in Sybaris in 600 BC. c. which then passed under the rule of the Lucanians to finally become a colony of Rome.

Truly a unique context that “sheds an interesting light on ancient religious life,” applauds the Director of Museums at the Ministry of Culture, Massimo Ossanawhich indicates that the archaeological research conducted in Paestum in the 1950s on the main temples has not been scientifically documented.

It started in 2020 and immediately veiled by the epidemic, The excavations resumed a few months ago: “What we are facing today is the time when the sanctuary was abandoned, for reasons not yet clarified, between the end of the second century and the beginning of the first century BC,” says Dr. Angelo.

analysis Clay decorations It allows us to date its foundation in the first quarter of the fifth century BC, when some of the most important monumental buildings that have come down to us were already built in the Greek colony, the Temple of Hera, built between 560 and 520 BC. , and Athens, dating back to 500 BC

Neptune Temple It was completed, rather, a little later, in 460 BC. C, after a long pregnancy. Of very small dimensions – measuring 15.60 meters by 7.50 meters – with 4 columns in front and 7 on the sides, the temple is Doric in style like the others, but it is distinguished by the purity of its forms.

Eros rides on a dolphin, one of the most amazing pieces of clay ever found. Photo: AP

“Is it Doric temple surround The smallest building we know of before the Hellenistic period, the first building in Paestum to fully express Doric law,” explains Gabriel Zuchtregel, former director of Paestum and now in charge of Pompeii, who is about to publish a comprehensive monograph on Doric architecture.

He is “Small model approx For the Great Temple of Neptune, “which must have been under construction at the time,” is a kind of missing link between the sixth and fifth centuries BC. jim

Very important, therefore, because it makes it clear in a way The artistic and cultural independence of the community It repudiates those who, in the colonies, have long believed that they merely imitated the productions of the homeland.

However, too The amount of objects found is extraordinary. In the space separating the facade of the building from the altar, usually erected outside: terracotta figurines with the faces of offerings or deities, up to 15 with little eros riding on dolphins, miniature temples and altars.

They are small artifacts added to the seven bulls’ heads around the altar, perhaps “accessories” available to those who officiated the worship. and that they were apparently dutifully laid on the ground, “as in a concluding rite,” according to D’Angelo’s reasons, when the sanctuary, which continued to be frequented even in the reign of Lucan and then from 273 a.d. With the arrival of the Romans, it fell into disuse.

“Every day is a surprise,” smiles the director, surrounded by a team of archaeologists in coordination Francesco Milli.

To understand more, of course, it will take time, studies, restorations and laboratory analysis will be required.

Meanwhile, research is being done to document every stage of the temple’s life up to the moment of its construction, and an attempt is also being made Understand the dynamics that led to the crash From part of the walls at the back of the building.

Excavations continue at the Paestum site. Photo: Ansa

Items of strong interest “abound,” D’Angelo enthuses. Like the signature, directly on one of the statuettes with the dolphin, of Avlis,”Potters family from Lazioalso known on Delos, whose existence here in Paestum is not documented.

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Or like the very special location of this sanctuary, built in the city, yes, but far from the center and other temples, connected by walls. Very close to the sea To which he practically appeared: “The ships that passed and found her ahead.”

The thought goes to Cupid on a dolphin and on a Roman coin from the third century BC. C, which had Eros riding the dolphin on one side and Poseidon on the other. Could this temple have been named after the deity who gave the city its name? D’Angelo wise: “It’s still too early to tell, but the premise is very interesting. It’s a suggestion, waiting for digs to shed light on the story.”

Freddie Dawson

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