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Magna Grecia, un invito al viaggio

An invitation to voyage - Sanctuaries and buildings

Article Index
An invitation to voyage
Early colony
Colonial Model
Metapontum foundation
Siris colonisation
Sanctuaries and buildings
Rome presence
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Rural sanctuaries placed in strategic points throughout the chora corresponded to water resources or linked to segments of viability. These places of worship were principally dedicated to female divinities of the agricultural world, referring to concepts of fertility and rebirth such as Artemis, Hera, Demeter and Persephone. There is evidence in the sites of San Biagio, Pantanello, Sant’Angelo Vecchio, Incoronata, of “political” gathering and meditation places, apart from being seats of religious worship.

The farm represented the minimum unit of this system of occupation of the territory. Small, autonomous rural installations are to be found more or less uniformly along the marine terraces and along the river valleys and their tributaries. There is evidence of this from the end of the 7th century B.C. onwards but it became a more widely diffused phenomenon especially in the 4th century B.C. In the central zone these settlements communicated with the urban centre of Metapontum through a network of parallel roads and canals.

The dwellings were generally modest structures with ample space devoted to agricultural production. They were built with unfired bricks on stone skirting boards to protect the walls from the damp of the terrain. The roofs were mainly covered in tiles laid upon wooden trusses. It’s possible that the Greeks who settled in the fertile Metapontum plain brought agricultural models and alimentary habits with them to the West from their homeland. This could have been to recreate a familiar environment while departing from previous local ways of exploiting the land.

Pantanello’s Rural Sanctuary, where archaeological deposits have conserved a vast sample of palaeo-botanical and pollen remains provides wide documentation on this subject. A considerable part of this refers to cereals and it’s been possible to identify four species: spelt, wheat, barley and millet.

The most important cereal for the Greek settlers was barley as is recorded in the aforementioned Tables of Heraclea. This was indicated as payment in kind in exchange for rent of the land. Barley’s value as a means of trade was so strong that it was chosen to stamp the symbol on the coins of Metapontum. Figs, olives and grapes were the three main fruit plants cultivated on the territory of Metapontum by the Greek settlers. Figs were considered sacred fruit and were present in many feast celebrations linked to spring and to agricultural production. Grapevines and scenes of the grape harvest in illustrations of the Greek world are associated with the worship of Dionysus. The god, often represented on big craters or in plastic reproductions shown in processions with maenads and satyrs and in banquet scenes, had many religious feasts dedicated to him, linked to agrarian cycles of vines and to wine production.


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