Overview of temple from SW, looking NE; N-S street at left; "Temple o...

Altar of temple, looking E from temple, Poseidonia, "Basilica", ...

Overview of temple from "Temple of Neptune," looking S, Poseidon...

East front of temple, looking W-NW, Poseidonia, "Basilica", Paes...

Cella colonnade, looking NW from SE corner, Poseidonia, "Basilica&quo...

Overview of "Temple of Neptune" and "Basilica," lookin...

Context: Poseidonia
Type: Temple
Summary: Temple, probably dedicated to Hera, located in the sacred area in the southern zone of the city; oriented to the east.
Date: ca. 560 BC - ca. 530 BC

Overall dimensions of stylobate ca. 24.51 m. x ca. 54.27 m. Dimensions of cella building ca. 13.38 m. x ca. 41.99 m. Width of ptera 6.15 m. (fronts), 5.50 m. (sides). Lower column diameter 1.44 m.; axial intercolumniation 2.87 m. (fronts), 3.10 m. (flanks). Exterior column height 6.45 m. Height of entablature ca. 2.17 m. Entasis is equal to 1/120 of column height. If a foot measurement of 31 cm. is assumed (de Waele 1980, 399), the proportions of the Basilica can be expressed as follows: stylobate 79 F. x 175 F.; stereobate 84 x 180 F.; cella building 42 x 135 F.; width of ptera 20 F. (fronts), 18.5 F. (sides); axial intercolumniation 9.25 F.(fronts), 10 F. (sides); lower column diameter 5 F.; column height 21 F.; entablature height 7 F.

Region: Campania
Period: Archaic

Architectural Order:



In plan, the temple is unusually broad: it has nine columns across the east and west facades, with eighteen along the flanks. Three columns stood between the antae in the porch. Aligned axially with the central columns of the facade and the pronaos is a row of seven columns in the interior of the cella, dividing the cella into two naves. These interior columns were of the same diameter and height as those of the pteron. The pteron is wide, almost pseudo-dipteral, and the antae of the cella building line up with the third column along the flanks. Behind the cella is an adyton, and although the cross-wall is not preserved, the adyton appears not to have been accessible from the cella.

Date Description:

The temple is dated to the archaic period based on the evidence of the plan, with its eccentricities such as the single colonnade in the cella and the tristyle in antis pronaos, indicative of an early and experimental phase in Doric architecture. The pronounced entasis of the columns is also an early feature. The wide, spreading echinus of the capitals also dates them to ca. 560 B.C. The style of the architectural terracottas, which were originally painted, can be dated to after the mid-sixth century B.C.


Based on the plan, whose eccentricities suggest an early date, the plan of the temple is generally thought to date to ca. 560 B.C. Its architectural terracottas, however, appear slightly later in date, perhaps dating to ca. 520 B.C. Some of the architectural terracottas date to the fourth century B.C., indicating that repairs were undertaken at this time.

Other Notes:

The temple is typical of archaic western Greek temple architecture in its experimentation in plan and details. For example, the nine columns at the west facade of the temple have capitals which are decorated at their necks with different carved bands, including palmettes, rosettes, lotus flowers and tendrils, all of which were originally painted. The capitals of the antae in the pronaos have roll-like projecting moldings on their undersides, a feature paralleled only at the Heraion at Foce del Sele, Sybaris and Argos; it appears to be a transplanted Peloponnesian feature. The presence of the central colonnade in the cella has been variously explained either as a device to help support the wide roof span, or as the result of religious practices: if the temple was dedicated to two divinities (or to two aspects of the same divinity), the cult statues would have been displayed on either side of the central colonnade. The temple was originally termed the "basilica" by eighteenth-century visitors, who assumed the building to be civic in function; now, however, it is generally agreed to have been dedicated to Hera. Numerous terracotta votive figurines representing Hera were found in the vicinity. Dedications representing the sacred marriage of Hera to Zeus were also found, leading some scholars to propose that the temple housed both of their cult statues. The limestone altar, with lateral staircase, is preserved at the east; to the south is a bothros or sacrificial pit.

Other Bibliography:

Koldewey and Puchstein 1899, 13-18, pl. 2; Sestieri 1955a, 152-7; Riemann 1965, 198-208; Dinsmoor 1975, 92-97; Coulton 1977, 74-79; Lawrence 1983, 156-157; Pedley 1990, 43-54