previous next

METAPONTION (Metaponto) Lucania, Italy.

On the Gulf of Taranto between the mouths of the Bradanus and Casuentus rivers (modern Bradano and Basento). Famed for the fertility of its farm land, Metapontion was settled by Achaean Greeks in 773-772 B.C. according to Eusebius, but in the late 8th or 7th c. according to modern scholars. It was the last home and burial place of the philosopher Pythagoras. It supported the Athenian expedition to Sicily (415 B.C.). The city was abandoned during the second Punic war in 207 B.C.

The rectangular city plan has been reconstructed on the basis of air photographs. It is connected to a vast subdivision system of the countryside where Greek farmsteads, the earliest belonging to the 6th c. B.C., have been excavated. The original urban nucleus was augmented in the 5th c. to create a new agora in the area of the Temple of Apollo Lykeios, which previously had been outside the walls. This area of the city, its NE section, is currently the scene of study and excavation. The foundations of the Temple of Apollo Lykeios belong to an early archaic building with an exterior colonnade (9 x 18 columns). It is comparable in plan to the basilica (Temple of Hera I) at Paestum. The order was Doric. The temple was modified on various occasions, notably with the addition of pedimental sculpture in the late 6th c. B.C. but was already in a state of dilapidation in the 4th c. To the W of the Temple of Apollo are the foundations of a still earlier temple dating to the end of the 7th c. and to the E are the foundations of a third temple. North of the city near the Bradanus river and beside the modern Taranto-Reggio Calabria highway is the Doric temple long known as the Knights' Tables (Tavole Paladine) but probably dedicated to Hera. It was erected in the late 6th c. B.C. Of the colonnade (6 x 12 columns), 15 columns are still standing. West of the temple is the extensive necropolis. Nearby is the antiquarium where material from the new excavations is displayed. Material from early excavations, including architectural terracottas from the Temple of Hera and the marble kouros from the Temple of Apollo Lykeios, is in the museum at Potenza.


M. Lacava, Topografia e storia di Metaponto (1891); T. J. Dunbabin, The Western Greeks (1948); W. B. Dinsmoor, The Architecture of Ancient Greece (1950) 97 (“Knights' Tables”); G. Schmiedt & R. Chevalier, Caulonia e Metaponto (1959; also in L'Universo 39, 1959); D. Adamesteanu, “Metaponto (Matera) Appunti fotointerpretativi,” NSc (1965) suppl. 179-84P; id., “Metaponto,” BdA 52 (1967) 46-47MPI; M. Napoli, Civiltà della Magna Grecia (1969) 238-44; A. D. Trendall, “Archaeology in South Italy and Sicily, 1967-69,” Arch. Reports for 1969-70, 38-39.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: