Ancient helmets, temple ruins found during excavations in southern Italy


ROME (AP) – Archaeologists in southern Italy have uncovered ancient warrior helmets and the ruins of a painted brick wall at a site that may have been a precursor to a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, officials said on Tuesday.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the remains excavated at the popular tourist spot of Velia were found on what was once an acropolis in one of Magna Graecia’s most important cities. Velia is 40 kilometers 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 “holy” and metal fragments of what may be weapons, the culture ministry said.

The director of the State Museums, Massimo Osanna, who had previously directed lengthy excavations at Pompeii, Italy’s most famous archaeological site, said the area explored at Velia likely contained relics of sacrificial offerings to Athena, the mythological Greek goddess of war and wisdom, were offered after an important naval battle in the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea.

At the 6th-century Battle of Alalia off the coast of Corsica, Greek forces triumphed over Etruscan forces and their Carthaginian allies.

Velia is famous for being home to an ancient Greek school of philosophy, including the philosophers Parmenides and Zeno. It was part of Magna Graecia, the area of ​​southern Italy colonized by Greek city-states. The settlement in Velia occupied an upper part or acropolis of the area and hills and was surrounded by a wall.

Velia’s foundation dates back to around 540 BC. by colonists from Asia Minor.

Franceschini said the discoveries from the Velia excavation underscored the importance of investing in archaeological research to reveal “important parts of Mediterranean history”.


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