Altar of Temple of Apollo, looking E, Metapontum

Reconstructed column capitals and Doric frieze, Metapontum, Temple of Apol...

Reconstructed architectural fragments: column capitals, Doric frieze, Meta...

Reconstructed column shaft and capital, Metapontum, Temple of Apollo

Overview of remains, looking NW from its SE corner, Metapontum, Temple of ...

Reconstructed column capitals, with inscribed block, Metapontum, Temple of...

Context: Metapontum
Type: Temple
Summary: Temple dedicated to Apollo, with two distinct building phases recognized; located in the main intramural sanctuary of the city, west of the agora.
Date: ca. 570 BC - ca. 540 BC

The overall dimensions of Temple AI measure ca. 46.40 m. in length x ca. 23.20 m. in width. The overall dimensions of the foundations of Temple AII measure 52.50 m. x 22.60-22.80 m. The dimensions of the stylobate (which is not preserved) are calculated at ca. 50.00 m. x ca. 20.50 m. The interaxial spacing of the columns of the facades and the flanks was not equal, calculated at ca. 2.62 m. at the facade and 3.02 m. at the flanks. The maximum lower diameter of the columns is calculated at 1.36 m.; their upper diameter varies between 0.98 and 1.00 m.

Region: Lucania
Period: Archaic

Architectural Order:



Two phases of the temple have been identified. The plan of the first, temple AI, is unclear, as it is preserved only in places in the foundations, which were dismantled and reused for the second temple on the same site. Temple AI did not conform to the orthogonal street plan of the city, whereas Temple AII, its immediate successor, altered its orientation slightly to conform to the city plan. Temple AII was a large peripteral temple of unusual plan: it had a propteron or double row of columns at its east facade, the second row of columns aligned with the third column along the flanks. There was a pronaos, with antae but no columns in antis; there was neither adyton nor opisthodomos. The cella was long and narrow, and the width of the cella foundations suggests that there was an interior colonnade of seven columns along each side of the cella, close to the cella wall. A recent reconstruction of the groundplan of Temple AII proposes 8x17 columns for the exterior colonnade.

Date Description:

Ceramic evidence and votive figurines of Daedalic style found in the foundations of the first temple provide a terminus ante quemof ca. 570 B.C. for the start of construction of Temple AI. Similar finds from the foundation levels of Temple AII indicate that it was begun shortly after the abandonment and dismantling of AI.


The first temple, Temple AI, was begun in ca. 570-560 B.C. and probably dedicated to Apollo. This temple was never completed; shortly after its inception it was abandoned, and its foundations were reused for the second temple, whose construction was begun around the middle of the fifth century B.C. The temple was destroyed in the last quarter of the fourth century B.C., with the arrival of the Lucanians into Magna Graecia.

Other Notes:

The presence of a propteron, and the long narrow cella, are reminiscent of archaic Sicilian temple architecture, for example Temple C at Selinus and theTemple of Apollo at Syracuse. The extremely wide intercolumniation of the facades, estimated at ca. 2.62 m., makes a normal entablature (with a triglyph over each column and intercolumniation) unlikely. Recent studies instead suggest that the temple had 14 triglyphs and 13 metopes at the facade, instead of 15 and 14. It is probable that the triglyphs and metopes had the same dimensions at the flanks and facades, resulting in a frieze which was relatively independent of the column placement. According to the excavators, the columns probably had entasis; the capitals were low and spreading in profile, with two necking rings.

The dedication of the temple to Apollo is suggested by the presence of inscribed blocks or "argoi lithoi," dedicated to Apollo Lykeios Nikaios; architectural terracottas also preserve the name of the divinity in abbreviated form. It is likely that the earlier temple on the site, Temple AI, was also dedicated to the same god.

In front of the temple at the east, but aligned with the earlier Temple AI, was the massive altar, which may date to a few years earlier than Temple AII. It was crowned with a Doric entablature.

Other Bibliography:

Koldewey and Puchstein 1899, 38-4; Adamesteanu 1974, 22-26; Dinsmoor 1975, 97-98; Adamesteanu 1980, 316-329; Mertens 1985, 654-661.