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June 10: Paestum August 3, 2010

Posted by msmith78 in Uncategorized.

Temple of Hera I

The area was colonized in about 600 BC so this first temple of porous stone dates from that period. Parts of the building that prove that it is from this era include the odd number of columns in the front to carry the weight of the center of the roof, also the number of columns and the ratio almost 1:1 ratio of the intercolumation and the width of the columns due to the early understanding of carrying the weight of the structure.  There is also an internal central colonnade reflecting the same early understanding of supporting the roof.

Temple of Hera II

This temple is exactly beside the Temple of Hera I, but it was built in the mid 400s BC. It has an even colonnade along the front, no central colonnade on the inside, as well as smaller columns to carry the weight of the structure showing the progression in design.  It is known that this was a temple to Hera because there was a statue of her found holding a pomegranate, but it was initially thought that the temples were either dedicated to Apollo the approver of the colonies or Poseidon the patron of the city. This is one of the first examples of a double colonnade, and the outer colonnade and the central colonnade of the temple were not exactly calibrated as we would define alignments. Next to the temple a Buthroi or hole in the ground for offering sacrifices of wine or blood to the gods who dwelled in the earth was found.

Roads and Residences

Unlike in Greece where you would build the city on the hillside and leave the agreeable land for farming, there was so much land in Italy that they could build the city on flat ground. The major roads ran east to west and were 300 meters apart and led to the harbor; the minor streets ran north to south. The four main streets which were thirteen meters across were called Plateiae or “wide”, and the smaller streets called steonopos or “narrow” were five meters wide.  Each block was then 35 by 135 meters. The main roads were lined with stoas similar to those seen in Ephesus.

Roman Forum

The forum was well defined with a double-storied stoas surrounding it.


The amphitheater was in the shape of an ellipse, which was a new geometry. The use of brickwork and arches make it very different from the Greek structures we have encountered thus far.


This was completely circular like a tholos, but cut into the ground. It was of use similar to the bouletarion, but with a new form unique to the others we have seen that were either more theater or rectangular in form.


Burials were not allowed to take place with in the city walls for religious, superstitious, and health reasons, but there was one burial and grave marker allowed in Pasteum. It was the founder of the colonies grave. The building was sealed so that the only means of entrance was to tear down a war. When excavators broke into the structure they found jars of honey and wine as well as other burial accoutrements.

Temple of Foruna Verilus

The priestess had to bath in the sacred waters here. There is a labyrinth exposed that reveals the cult purposes of the building.

Temple of Athena

This was a smaller version of the temple of Apollo, and half the size of the Hera 1 and 2. The section reveals that the base is not part of the cella so the entire structure of it is ascending. This difference in form was possible because it was built on the edge of the civilization, and there were no major forces preventing it.

Philosophy Presentation

Experimentation was also possible for philosophy and reason, and Pythagorus was able to flourish here.  Philosophy is a journey to find the truth unwrapping a layer at a time. There are four periods of philosophy: Ancient Greek, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary. For the ancients there were those that believed, it was a world of chaos, a world of innumerable parts, or that truth was no more than opinion. Operating within these branches the ancient philosophers formed the basis of the other periods of philosophy.

Archeological Museum

The presentation of the metopes was very interesting and different from the others we have seen. What was missing was drawn directing on the missing parts or on display descriptions that aligned directly across from the corresponding fragmented metope.


There were two new kinds of bracing in the restoration work that I saw today. The first one was associated with stabilizing the column, and it involved a metal cord that was bolted in the ground and wrapped the full height of the column. The second was for securing a fragmented rock spanning two columns. It was a track looking rectangular frame. During our walk through the ruins a church bell went off at noon that played the song “Immaculate Mary”; it reminded me so much of the calls to prayer in Turkey, but with less direct instruction to pray. The flowers here in Italy are so much more fragile in nature to the flowers in Turkey which were very hardy with almost desert survival toughness of design. Here the popies are paper-like, and there are no waxed leaves in the wild flora.



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