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HERAKLEIA (Policoro) Lucania, Italy.

On the Gulf of Taranto at the mouth of the river Acris (Agri). The city was colonized from Tarentum in 433-432 B.C. Excavation, however, has shown that the acropolis (site of the Renaissance castle) was first occupied by Greek settlers at the end of the 8th c. B.C. Scattered potters' works, identified by the remains of kilns, have revealed a mixture of Greek and indigenous wares paralleled by the mixture of burial rites (cremation and inhumation in pithoi) found in the archaic necropolis. The E Greek character of much of the material of this settlement makes it possible to interpret it as an outpost of Siris. Following the Tarentine foundation, Herakleia became the meeting place of the representatives of the Italiote Greek League and remained so until the 330s B.C. One of the battles between King Pyrrhos of Epeiros and the Romans was fought in the vicinity in 280 B.C. In the 1st c. B.C., following the slave insurrection of Spartacus, the area occupied by the city was reduced once again to the acropolis, where a settlement persisted until the 5th c.

Long famous because of the discovery there of an inscribed text of the Lex Julia Municipalis and inscribed bronze tablets recording partitioning of temple properties (found in the river Acris), Herakleia has been the site of intensive archaeological investigation since 1959. The city is situated on a long low hill oriented NW-SE with the acropolis at the SE end toward the sea. The rectangular city plan was laid out at the time of the founding of the Tarentine colony. Three entire city blocks have been excavated. The city walls, traced largely from air photographs, belong to the 4th c. B.C. and were strengthened after construction. There are remains of a coroplastic industry in the form of kilns and dumps of terracotta figurine fragments and molds. The foundations of a temple of the 4th c. B.C. have also been uncovered. The excavation of the extramural Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore has resulted in the discovery of a large group of dedications, largely miniature vases and terracotta figurines. These, together with the distinguished group of later 5th c. S Italian red-figure vases from a chamber tomb excavated in 1963, are displayed in the new museum adjoining the site.


B. Neutsch et al., Archäologische Forschungen in Lukanien II Herakleia-Studien, RM suppl. vol. 11 (1967)MPI; L. Quilici, Forma Italiae, Regio III, 1 Siris-Heraclea (1967); D. Adamesteanu, Siris-Heraclea (1969); A. D. Trendall, “Archaeology in South Italy and Sicily, 1967-69,” Archaeological Reports for 1969-1970, 38.


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