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The history of the town —Paestumwas founded by Greeks around 600 B.C. At the beginning it was called Poseidonia, since it was dedicate to Poseidon (the Roman Neptune), the god of the sea. In 400 B.C. it was occupied by the Lucans, an italic population. The Lucans ruled it till 273 B.C., when it became a Roman colony and was calledPaestum. The fall of the Floman Empire meant also the decline ofPaestum. As a matter of fact, around 500 B.C., since the mouths of the rivers running in the plain were silted up, the whole area became quite unhealthy.
Malaria had already spread all over the place and even the built-up area became marshy. Consequently the population gradually left the town. ln conclusion, such a disaster was caused by the deforestation of the nearby hills.
We must admit, however, that these magnificent ruins were preserved by marshes and woods, which prevented them from being destroyed and ransacked for many centuries.Paestumwas discovered just by chance in 1752, when they were building the modern road cutting the ancient town into two parts.
The Basilica — The Basilica is the oldest temple in Paestum. It was built around 550 B.C., in early Doric style. lt was called "Basilica" by mistake at the end of the 18th century, because the archaeologists thought it was a Roman building._We must remember that, for the ancients, the Basilica was a civil and not a religious building. Later on, however, an altar was discovered near it. It was situated outside the temple to enable the faithful to attend rites and sacrifices, since they were not allowed inside the temple. Which were regarded as sacrosanct: the house of the god. This altar and the small terracotta statues offered by the faithful to the deity and also found in this place, have allowed the experts to establish that the so called Basilica is in fact an ancient temple dedicated to Hera (Juno), worshipped as the goddess of fertility and motherhood.
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Daniele Davide, manager of Tredy Sas.
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