16.1.15

Paestum, Italy

Paestum was a major ancient Greek city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in Magna Graecia. After its foundation by Greek colonists under the name of Poseidonia (Ancient Greek: Ποσειδωνία) it was eventually conquered by the Lucanians and later the Romans. The Lucanians renamed it to Paistos and the Romans gave the city its current name. The ruins of Paestum are notable for their three ancient Greek temples which are in a very good state of preservation. Today the remains of the city are found in the modern frazione of the same name, which is part of the comune of Capaccio in the Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy.

Italiano
Fondata dai greci intorno al 600 a.E.V., si chiamava inizialmente Poseidonia, da Poseidone, o Nettuno, dio del mare, al quale la città era stata dedicata. Tra il 400 e il 273 avanti fu occupata dalla popolazione italica dei lucani. Nel 273 divenne colonia romana col nome di Paestum. Ma è indubbio che la fondazione della città fosse preceduta dall'impianto di una fattoria commerciale sulla sponda sinistra e presso la foce del fiume Silaros e che le condizioni malariche del terreno indussero poi i primitivi coloni a spostare il centro abitato verso oriente, su un banco calcareo leggermente rialzato sulla pianura e sul litorale, lungo il corso di un'altro fiume minore (fiume Salso o Capofiume). Dall'impianto primitivo sul Silaros sviluppò il porto marittimo e fluviale della città e presso di esso sorse il Tempio di Era Argiva, che diventò presto uno dei più grandi e venerati santuari dell'Italia antica: circa 50 stadi separavano la città dallo Heraion e dal suo emporio sul fiume.La fine dell’Impero Romano coincise grosso modo con la fine della città. Verso il 500 E.V., infatti, in seguito ad un’epidemia di malaria, aggravata dall’insalubrità del territorio, gli abitanti gradualmente abbandonarono la città. La riscoperta di Paestum risale al 1762, quando fu costruita la strada moderna che l’attraversa tuttora.
ORIGINI DI PAESTUM E PRINCIPALI VICENDE STORICHE
Le colonie greche nel Mediterraneo più importanti furono quelle fondate in Asia Minore e nella Magna Grecia, termine che indica l’insieme delle città fondate dai greci in Italia meridionale e in Sicilia, una delle quali era appunto Paestum. Madrepatria di Paestum era Sibari, fondata nel 720 a.E.V. da achei e trezeni, i quali furono perciò detti sibariti. Questi ultimi erano famosi per la ricchezza, il lusso e la superbia. Lo storico Diodoro Siculo, del I sec. a.E.V., scrisse che ‘i sibariti erano schiavi del ventre e amanti del lusso’. Stradone, geografo greco vissuto tra il 60 e il 20 avanti, racconta che i sibariti avevano creato un insediamento fortificato nei pressi della foce del fiume Sele, estendendo la loro influenza sui territori limitrofi. Siamo a cavallo tra il VII e il VI sec. a.E.V.La fondazione della città si dovette al bisogno che Sibariti ebbero di aprirsi una via commerciale fra lo Ionio e il Tirreno attraverso la dorsale dell'Appennino, evitando il di circumnavigazione della costa calabra e lo stretto di Messina.La colonia, situata in un punto strategico, al centro dell’incrocio delle vie commerciali tra il bacino ionico e le regioni italiche, fu chiamata Poseidonia in onore di Poseidone, dio del mare. Fu nel 510 a.E.V., in seguito alla distruzione di Sibari per opera dei crotonesi, quando molti sibariti fuggirono a Poseidonia con le loro ricchezze, la loro esperienza e il loro spirito di intraprendenza, che la città raggiunse un alto livello di potenza economica e politica. A questo periodo risale la costruzione dei tre templi noti col nome di Basilica, tempio di Poseidone e tempio di Cerere, coevi a quell’unico affresco greco finora scoperto, nella tomba del Tuffatore. Nel V secolo avanti i lucani, popolo italico, cominciarono ad infiltrarsi nella colonia, lasciando numerose testimonianze della propria influenza in tombe affrescate secondo il modello dei maestri greci. Sul finire del IV secolo, alleatisi con i bruzi, sostennero una lunga lotta contro i greci per il dominio dei nuovi territori verso il mare, che si concluse con la riaffermazione della loro supremazia sulla città. Nel 273 a.E.V. i romani occuparono Poseidonia che così divenne la fedele Paestum romana, che si dimostrò vicina a Roma anche nei momenti più drammatici della sua storia. Durante il periodo romano, nel III secolo, le attività economiche e culturali fiorirono nuovamente: sorsero nuovi edifici pubblici, come l’anfiteatro, il foro e il ginnasio, che contribuirono a donare alla città quell’aspetto che gli scavi hanno riportato alla luce.Tra i fattori che portarono al declino di Paestum, la realizzazione di nuove strade per il commercio in Oriente, che finirono per isolare irrimediabilmente la città dalle principali vie commerciali, e l’epidemia di malaria del IX secolo, unita alle scorrerie dei pirati saraceni, che costrinsero i pestani a rifugiarsi sui monti, e ad abbandonare l’antica Poseidonia.

History

According to Strabo the city was founded as Poseidonia by Greek Achaeans from Sybaris. The colonists had built fortifications close to the sea, but then decided to found the city further inland at a higher elevation.The fortifications might have been built to the south of Poseidonia on the promontory where Agropoli is now. According to the historical tradition the sanctuary to Poseidon was located there, after which the city would have been named. The date of Poseidonia's founding is not given by ancient sources, but the archaeological evidence gives a date of approximately 600 BC
Archaeological evidence from Paestum's first centuries indicates the building of roads, temples and other features of a growing city. Coinage, architecture and molded votive figurines all attest to close relations maintained with Metaponto in the sixth and fifth centuries.[citation needed]
It is assumed that Poseidonia harbored refugees from its mother city Sybaris when that city was conquered by Croton in 510 BC. In the early fifth century, Poseidonia's coins adopted the Achaean weight standard and the bull seen on Sybarite coins. A. J. Graham thinks it was plausible that the number of refugees was large enough for some kind of synoecism to have occurred between the Poseidonians and the Sybarites, possibly in the form of a sympolity.
Poseidonia might have had a major share in a new foundation of Sybaris which lasted from 452/1 BC until 446/5 BC. This is suggested by the great resemblance of the coins of Sybaris to those of Poseidonia in this period. Possibly a treaty of friendship between Sybaris, its allies and the Serdaioi (an unknown people) dates to this new foundation, because Poseidonia was the guarantor of this treaty.

Description
The town of Poseidonia - later called Paestum - was built by Greek colonists from Sybaris, an earlier Greek city in southern Italy, in around 600BC. It grew and prospered and now has among the most extensive remains of Magna Graecia (Magna Grecia in Italian).
In 410BC the town was conquered by the Lucanians, a native Italian people, then in 273BC the Romans took over, changed the name to Paestum and began their own building programme. As the Roman Empire collapsed, Paestum crumbled. Malaria and Saracen raids led to the near-abandonment of the town and the development of Capaccio, a safer hillside settlement.
Paestum itself was pretty much forgotten. An information board outside the old church gives a poignant image of the locale as an abandoned wilderness frequented by brigands. Things changed with the eighteenth-century rediscovery of the temples by road-builders coupled with a revival of interest in antiquities and the visits of Grand Tourists and indefatigable travellers like Shelley and Goethe. The classical name Paestum was revived (though Capaccio is still the local authority). Nowadays most of the vanished city of Poseidonia-Paestum is hidden under agricultural land. The ancient city walls, constructed with massive stone blocks, encircle a large area of countryside, much of it unexcavated. Right in the middle is the archaeological zone open to the public, and a few later buildings housing small tourist businesses..


Site Monuments
The oldest and most important sanctuary of the entire region was the Heraion established about 570 B.C. It was not before the 20th century that its fragmentary ruins were discovered 9 km north of Paestum in the proximity of the Sele delta.

There are some hints which attribute its earliest establishment to Jason and the Argonauts.
 Second temple of Hera, also called Poseidon temple

Only a few years later (about 550 B.C.), the oldest of the three temples of Paestum was built, which was also dedicated to the Greek goddess of fertility Hera (the sister and wife of Zeus). Due to an early mistake it is known today as the "Basilica".
First temple of Hera, c. 550 BC

The smallest of the three temples, called the Ceres temple , was dedicated to the goddess Athene and was built about 500 B.C.
 Temple of Athena

The Poseidon temple, (or Neptune temple) is from about 450 B.C. (about the same time the Parthenon in Athens was built). This temple is probably the best preserved Doric temple in the world.
The Neptune temple and Basilica are standing directly next to each other thus offering a quite impressive panorama.

The small Ekklesiasterion (legislation, election of the judge) was preserved from the Greek period of Paestum because the Romans left it under a mound. The Romans established nearby a larger building (comitium) for similar purposes and proceedings.
The small amphitheatre, which is only half excavated, is like nearly all the other buildings (respectively their foundation relics) of Roman origin (1st century   B.C.).
Further excavations around the temples during the last decades uncovered the outlines of the old city inside the town walls. The Roman forum ,  is situated on the southern part of the more expanded Greek agora.

For some buildingfoundations, there are still different interpretations for their original function. The current interpretation becomes difficult because the use of the buildings often mutated with the changes from Greek to Lucanian and finally to Roman inhabitants. This may be illustrated by the following examples: The roof, which can be seen in the following photo, belongs to an underground sanctuary (sacellum , hypogaeum), which is enclosed by an additional wall. From its form, it can be either a grave or a heroon (an empty grave), as it was customary at that time - e.g. in honour of the founder of the city. In fact, this building is from the 6th century B.C.
In another complex, which is interpreted as a gymnasium with swimming pool, some archaeologists assume that the strange stone construction in the pool was a podium for the swimming matches. Others assume that the original gynnasium was transformed after the 3rd century B.C. to a sanctuary of the goddess Fortuna Virilis, at which the stone construction served solemn fertility rites.

The town wall with its 4 gates is 4750 m long. It was built by the Greeks and later fortified by Lucanians and Romans.
Many Lucanian graves were found close to the city (the necropolies always lay outside the walls). These graves formed "small houses". Walls and roofs used to be decorated with skilful frescos.
 The symposium on the north wall.
The most famous of these graves is the grave of the "Tuffatore" (diver), which still comes from the Greek (about 480 B.C.). The scene represented on the roof slab symbolizes an almost harmonious transition from life to death. These and further finds, also of the older Heraion,  at the Sele delta, are shown in the national museum at the excavation grounds.
The excavations and restoration measures still continue today.

 Nomos of Poseidonia, c. 530–500 BC. Poseidon is seen wielding a trident with a chlamys draped over his arms.

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