Paestum, excavations reveal two Greek temples of Doric style

A stratigraphic excavation campaign in the western area of the ancient city of Poseidonia-Paestum has revealed the existence of two Greek temples of Doric order.

A stratigraphic excavation campaign in the western area of the ancient city of Poseidonia-Paestum has revealed the existence of two Greek temples of Doric order. A discovery that sheds new light on the origins and urban development of the polis and provides crucial data for understanding the evolution of Doric architecture in Poseidonia and Magna Graecia.

The first temple, initially intercepted in June 2019 and investigated as of September 2022, can be dated to the first decades of the fifth century B.C., and to date constitutes, in terms of architectural and dimensional characteristics, a unicum of Doric order temple architecture. It is preserved in the portions of the stylobate (column base) and crepidom (steps where the temple was built) and measures 11.60×7.60 m., with a peristasis of 4×6 columns.

From new investigations, however, the history of the sanctuary appears to be even older. Fourteen fragmentary Doric capitals of similar size to those of the small temple have been reused within the temple structure. The typology is, however, different and comparable to that of the capitals of the “Basilica,” the oldest of Paestum’s three major temples. These latest exceptional finds show that we are dealing with another temple, of modest size but with architectural features similar to those of the first great temples of Paestum and to be dated to the 6th century B.C.

“The recent discoveries confirm how much there is still to be done in Paestum on the excavation front, on the research front, and also on the enhancement front,” said Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano. “After decades of inertia, the Ministry of Culture is boosting remarkable initiatives. We have reopened the National Archaeological Museum after major and challenging refurbishment works that allow for a valuable exhibition itinerary. ”In the coming weeks I will be back in Paestum to emphasize the value of the 20-million-euro redevelopment work at the former Cirio plant. In recent months I have also traveled to Velia to inaugurate the exhibition ’Elea: Rebirth’ and secure an initial allocation of resources to begin building the museum."

“The new Pestan excavations are yet another demonstration of how study and research are key axes in the management of cultural heritage and fundamental tools of the functions of protection and enhancement that the state is called upon to carry out, in a perspective as widely synergistic as possible among the various professionals involved in different capacities in archaeological investigations,” said Director General Museums Massimo Osanna. “The networking of skills, in fact, is a vehicle for the improvement of the knowledge and enjoyment of cultural heritage, with the aim of making it ’readable’ in the eyes of a public with different abilities, but all deserving of the same opportunities for access. These, moreover, are the objectives pursued by the National Museum System, an ambitious nationwide project that aims to set minimum levels of quality of enhancement for all cultural sites, of which the Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia, with its intelligent policies of care and promotion of the sites included in it, represents a virtuous example, certainly a harbinger of further fascinating future finds.”

“These exceptional finds, which add fundamental new pieces to the reconstruction of the archaic history of the Magna Graecia colony of Poseidonia, document, in fact, the multiple construction phases of a sanctuary located in a liminal zone, near of the coast from which the settlers themselves had arrived a few decades earlier, and built in the Archaic period even before the city was equipped with a defensive circuit,” explained Paestum and Velia Archaeological Park director Tiziana D’Angelo. “This is a complex excavation site that needs the collaboration of archaeologists, restorers, engineers, architects and geologists. Soon the excavation activities will be completed and we are already working to create a new fruition route that will make this important sanctuary accessible to the public.”

Paestum, excavations reveal two Greek temples of Doric style
Paestum, excavations reveal two Greek temples of Doric style

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