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Archaeologists uncover Greek temple in southern Italy

February 1, 2022

The find was discovered in a key area of Magna Graecia, the part of Italy where Greek settlers first arrived in the eighth century BCE.

Italien | Archäologen finden antiken Tempel in Velia
Researchers said that the helmets were remarkably well-preservedImage: Parco Archeologico Paestum e Velia/ANSA/dpa/picture alliance

Archaeologists in southern Italy have uncovered ruins of what they believe was a prototemple made by Greek settlers. Italy's Culture Ministry announced on Tuesday that helmets and a painted wall had been discovered in Velia, an important city during the birth of Roman civilization.

Now part of the town of Ascea in the province of Salerno, Velia is 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Paestum, famous for some of the best-preserved Ancient Greek temples in the world.

Velia and Paestum were part of what the Romans called Magna Graecia, or "Greater Greece," for the extraordinary number of Greeks who settled there. They began arriving in the eighth century BCE and would play a major role in spreading Hellenic culture in what would become Ancient Rome. 

The remnants of a wall that belonged to an Ancient Greek structure in Italy
Archaeologists believe that offerings were made at the temple to Athena after the sixth-century BCE battle of Alalia off the coast of Corsica, where forces from Greece and Carthage were victorious over EtruscansImage: Parco Archeologico Paestum e Velia/ANSA/dpa/picture alliance

Velia itself was found about 540 BC. It is also famed as the home of the renowned ancient philosophers Parmenides and Zeno.

State Museums Director Massimo Osanna said the area explored at Velia probably contained relics of offerings made to Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom, after a key naval battle in the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea.

Although it is now inland, the ruins were located on what once was an acropolis overlooking the sea.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the discoveries yielded by the Velia excavation underscored the importance of investing in archaeological research to reveal "important pieces of the history of the Mediterranean.''

es/nm (AP, dpa)