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Magna Grecia, un invito al viaggio

An invitation to voyage - Metapontum foundation

Article Index
An invitation to voyage
Early colony
Colonial Model
Metapontum foundation
Siris colonisation
Sanctuaries and buildings
Rome presence
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Metapontum was founded approximately in 630 B.C. by Achaean settlers; here they found the very best climatic conditions, ample arable land, fertile and productive earth, rich forests that provided wood, rivers and the possibility of exploiting internal paths of communication as well as maritime ones.

The first constitutive act of a colony consists in defining the urban area and occupying the surrounding territory in a stable way; particular attention was paid to the area destined for cultivation for which they had to define a modality that allowed for the settlers’ sustenance by exploiting the arable land.

The urban space was located in a wide area between the sea and two rivers, the Bradano and the Basento. Two macro-areas were defined with different functions: one was dedicated to public activity while the other to habitation and to craft manufacture.

Then the surrounding territory of the polis (chora) was sub-divided into two principal functional areas: one that included the uncultivated zones destined for collective usage (koinè chora), and the other sub-divided in agricultural property destined for the settlers to inhabit (idìa chora). In its interior significant suburban sanctuaries (ierà chora) were located.

The zone for cultivation was divided into small, regular plots of land where the settlers built their own farms and installed their living areas. More than 1.000 farms that surrounded the city have been identified; farms that provided sustenance not only for the whole local community but also for exportation. The biggest production as mentioned earlier was cereals- wheat and barley in particular- wine and also seasonal fruits. A significant part of their diet was of course provided by meat and milk derivatives from their cattle raising.

The physical delimitation of the colony was defined by the indigenous habitations situated on the nearest hills such as Pisticci, Montescaglioso, Pomarico and Montalbano. The settlers then put into effect a first definition of road axes and carried out drainage of the canals and irrigation.

The designing and realisation of a dense network of canals is still considered to this day one of the most important works that the Greeks carried out not only for its outstanding engineering qualities but also for the immense benefits it brought to the region as a whole. These canals were completely dug out and maintained in such a way as to insure a constant supply of water whilst avoiding erosion and accumulation of waste on its bottom. The entire network was developed from today’s Bernalda to the coast and was so dense that it reached almost to present day Pisticci, with a total length of 1650 Km of dug out canals. Some parts of these had particularly big dimensions and you can admire them still today [one is about 8 metres wide completely dug out of the rock and is rather deep too)


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Un progetto

  • Unione Europea
  • Regione Basilicata