Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy

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Archaeologists in southern Italy have discovered ancient warrior helmets and the ruins of a painted brick wall at a site that might have been a forerunner of a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, officials said Tuesday.

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
Aerial view of the acropolis of Velia [Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the remains dug up at the popular tourist site of Velia were found on what had been an acropolis of one of Magna Graecia’s most important cities. Velia is 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Paestum, a much-visited site of ancient Greek temples.




The recently completed excavation at Velia unearthed a pair of helmets in good condition, the remains of a building, vases with the Greek inscription for “sacred” and metal fragments of what possibly were weapons, the culture ministry said.

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
Bronze cap helmet of Etruscan origin in situ [Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
One of the bronze helmets found at Velia [Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
Chalcidian bronze helmet in situ [Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

State Museums Director Massimo Osanna, who formerly had long directed excavations at Pompeii, Italy’s most celebrated excavated site, said the area explored at Velia probably contained relics of offerings made to Athena, the mythological Greek goddess of war and wisdom, after a key naval battle in the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea.




In the 6th-century battle of Alalia off the coast of Corsica, Greek forces were victorious over Etruscan forces and their Carthaginian allies.

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
One of the ceramic fragments found in the archaic temple. The word ‘ire’ or ‘sacred’
is scratched on the base  [Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
Fragment of painted pottery [Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

Velia is famed for being the home of an ancient Greek school of philosophy, including philosophers Parmenides and Zeno. It was part of Magna Graecia, the area of southern Italy colonized by Greek city-states. 




The settlement at Velia occupied an upper part, or acropolis, of the area as well as hillsides, and was surrounded by a wall. It was founded about 540 BC by colonists from Asia Minor.

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
Archaeologists at work in the excavation [Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
Section of an Archaic temple wall. The medieval tower can be seen in distance
[Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

Ancient helmets, temple ruins found at dig in southern Italy
The excavation brought to light an archaic temple of the sixth century BC with a heap
of weapons dedicated to Athena [Credit: Paestum-Velia Archaeological Park]

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.”

Author: Frances D’emilio | Source: The Associated Press [February 01, 2022]

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