An exhibition reconstructs the building sites of the temples of Selinunte

How were the temples of Selinunte built? A year-long exhibition reconstructs those construction sites with a display of ten life-size machines.

From July 5, 2022 to July 23, 2023, an exhibition reconstructs the construction sites set up to build the temples of Selinunte, tracing descriptions from ancient sources including early sketches by Grand Tour travelers. Ars Aedificandi. The Building Site in the Classical World, this is the title of the exhibition, is produced and organized by MondoMostre in collaboration with the Archaeological Park of Selinunte, Cave di Cusa and Pantelleria, and promoted by the Sicilian Region, Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity. The exhibition can be visited between the Selinunte Archaeological Park and the Caves of Cusa and is intended to be an evocative journey aimed at understanding the construction process: starting from where the stones were excavated at the Caves of Cusa (named after the baron who owned the area, active since the sixth century B.C. and abandoned when Hannibal’s army was sighted) to the places where the temples were raised with a display of cranes and construction machines in 1:1 scale.

Curated by Alessandro Carlino and Bernardo Agrò, the exhibition was created with the intention of engaging the public in understanding the techniques and processes that were carried out in ancient times to erect the temples of Selinunte through a 1:1 scale reconstruction of a real construction site. Ten machines including a crane, wagons and sleds for transporting stone material; measuring instruments such as the corobate, or a Roman instrument that was used to measure the slope of the ground, have been reconstructed life-size on the eastern hill and the Acropolis.

“Knowing machines, techniques and construction systems used in antiquity to build temples is a great opportunity to better understand the origin of the monumental heritage that has been handed down to us from the past and that our archaeological parks guard,” commented the councillor of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, Alberto Samonà. “The Selinunte exhibition makes us understand, with the support of faithful reconstructions of machinery, how the great temples arose, bringing visitors and especially young people closer to the discovery and understanding of the construction techniques and procedures of the past.” “An exhibition of high educational value that we hope can be visited by many schools,” says Selinunte Archaeological Park director Felice Crescente, “a way to discover how temples were born but above all the enormous work of those who worked on them.”

“The building sites of the ancient world were true small prolific cities formed by specialized workers,” explained Alessandro Carlino, “and we have reconstructed the route of the so-called ’rocchi’ from the quarries, eleven kilometers from Selinunte, to the Archaeological Park, where the machines are positioned on a 1:1 scale.”

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Photo by Gianluca Baronchelli

An exhibition reconstructs the building sites of the temples of Selinunte
An exhibition reconstructs the building sites of the temples of Selinunte

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