previous next

RHEGION (Reggio di Calabria) Italy.

According to ancient sources, founded toward the middle of the 8th c. B.C. by Chalkidian colonists, near the Calopinace river (ancient Apsias) (Diod. 8.23.2) in an area called Pallontion (Dion. Hal. 19.2). The city expanded N between the right bank of the Calopinace and the Santa Lucia. The ancient urban plan is long and narrow on a sloping plateau between the ridges of the Aspromonte hills along the straits of Messina. Its limits have been ascertained by the remains of the circuit wall and by the presence of the necropolis.

Although the area of the settlement expanded in the course of time, what is known of the circuit wall dates from the period of expansion between the end of the 5th c. and the beginning of the 4th c. B.C. Nothing remains of the wall in the S sector and on that side the determining date, for the area outside the city, is given by the presence of the necropolis. In the E sector a section of crude-brick wall must be attributed to a building outside the wall rather than to a preceding phase of the walls. Some parts of the N sector are known, where the extent of the urban area has been ascertained. The W sector is almost entirely known as it is limited by the coastline. The wall construction shows a double ring, joined by transverse elements and a filling of the intervening area with earth and rubble. The lower sections were large sandstone blocks, with brick above. The exact location of the gates is unknown, but there must have been one at either end of the major urban axis, at least one toward the Aspromonte hills, and two on the seaside.

Probably the acropolis was in the high area of today's city in the district of Reggio Campi-Cimitero. The site of the Greek agora, and later the forum of the Roman era, corresponds to the present-day Piazza Italia and there the principal public buildings were constructed. No evidence remains of the street system, and the continual rebuilding of the city on the same site and occasional earthquakes have made archaeological evidence scarce. Yet, in the NE sector, a large sacred area from the archaic and Classical periods has been identified. Interesting architectural terracotta elements have come from the area as well as votive materials) from the districts of Griso-Laboccetta, Sandicchi, and Taraschi-Barilla). Recent excavations have brought to light traces of a small temple and of other structures that point to the existence of a sanctuary. In the vicinity, the remains of an odeon have also been discovered. The stereobate of another temple has been partially unearthed beneath the modern prefecture. An inscription from the Roman period (CIL X, 1) attests the existence of a temple of Isis and Serapis, and another (CIL X, 6) mentions the templum Apollinis maioris. The latter inscription also mentions a prytaneum, while inscriptions provide a record of various other buildings. The most interesting of the inscriptions, dating to 374, mentions a porticoed basilica and a bath building. The excavations have brought to light ruins of bath buildings, private homes, and perhaps also public buildings. These ruins, interesting primarily because of their Late Empire mosaics, also include honorary column bases and other materials, particularly in the vicinity of Piazza Italia. Among other finds of special interest are those pertaining to the water supply of the city, particularly the cisterns.

Outside the city, necropoleis have been identified in the districts of Santa Lucia, Santa Caterina, and Pentimeli to the N, and Modena and Ravagnese to the S. Outside the walls toward the sea, a sanctuary of Artemis has also been discovered. Near it, the Athenian forces encamped at the time of the Sicilian expedition of 415 B.C. (Thuc. 6.44.3). The worship of that divinity at Rhegion has been attested by other sources. From the Classical sources it is known that the city was endowed with a fine harbor, which would therefore have had to be situated at the mouth of the Apsias river.

The city's territory was not large by comparison with the sphere of influence of other cities of Magna Graecia. Naturally limited by the mass of the Aspromonte hills and by the sea, it reached on the Tyrrhenian side as far as the Metauros river (in the archaic period perhaps even a little beyond) and on the Ionian side it ended at the territory of the Lokrians. At that point, in consequence of historic changes, the line of demarcation was formed at times by the Caecinos river and at times by the Halex river.

The Museo Nazionale di Reggio Calabria contains enormous documentation for the civilization of Magna Graecia, particularly material which concerns the territory of ancient Bruttium.


O. Axt, Zum Topographie von Rhegion und Messana (1887); H. Phihipp, RE IA (1920) 487ff; Ferrua, BACrist (1950) 227; G. Vallet, Rhegion et Zancle (1958); A. de Franciscis, Agalmata, sculture antiche nel Museo Nazionale di Reggio Calabria (1960); EAA 6 (1965) 644-46 (A. de Franciscis); E. Tropea Barbaro, “Il muro di cinta occidentale e la topografia di Reggio ellenica,” Klearchos (1967) 5ff; A. de Franciscis, Stato e societè in Locri Epizefiri (1972); G. Foti, Il Museo Nazionale di Reggio Calabria (1972).


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