Fragment of an archaic sculpture in the sanctuary of Athena discovered in Paestum

Paestum, a fragment of an archaic sculpture in the sanctuary of Athena emerges from the 2019 excavation campaign.

New discoveries from theUniversity of Salerno ’s 2019 excavation campaign in Paestum: the mission led by Professor Fausto Longo (director of the School of Specialization in Archaeological Heritage at the University of Salerno) has in fact found a stone head, from the late Archaic period, in the sanctuary of Athena. Turned three-quarters, it is made of the same material from which the decorative elements of the temple of Athena were made. The back of the work is unfinished, suggesting that it must be a fragment of an architectural slab, perhaps a metope: if so, it would be the first one recovered in the sanctuary.

The find is part of a study project concerning the sanctuary of Athena that aims to investigate its sacred area, especially its earliest phases. “Fortunately for us,” Longo declares, “not all of the sanctuary was excavated in the 1920s and 1930s and there are still intact areas to be investigated. Also this year, the Salerno research team is excavating the southeastern building to which the architectural terracottas on display in the museum were attributed, among the oldest documents from this part of the archaeological area.”

“The discovery of the fragment is proof that there is still much to investigate and discover about the history of this city in Paestum,” says Archaeological Park director Gabriel Zuchtriegel. “So far, stone sculpture from Paestum is known mainly from the sanctuary of Hera at the Mouth of the Sele River, but it is not certain that the picture may not change in the future, not least because we know that the so-called ’Basilica’ temple in all likelihood had carved metopes: there must have been a hundred of them, of which we have no trace so far. The discovery of the colleagues from Salerno reopens the question for the sanctuary of Athena as well.”

Moreover, the ongoing excavation can be visited every day from Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 12:30 p.m.: it is possible to see the archaeologists at work and talk with them about the issues of archaeology and archaeological research in Paestum.

In the photo: the fragment found

Fragment of an archaic sculpture in the sanctuary of Athena discovered in Paestum
Fragment of an archaic sculpture in the sanctuary of Athena discovered in Paestum

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