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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A short guide to paestum - II

The Temple of Hephaistos in AthensImage via Wikipedia

Author: Daniele

The so-called Temple of Poseidon. too, was dedicated to Hera, a goddess worshipped in the whole area. It was built around 450 B.C., being contemporary with the Parthenon of Athens. its style is like that of the Parthenon, namely the classical Doric style. The difference between the early Doric style and the classical Doric style is quite clear if you compare the columns of the Basilica with those of theTempleofNeptune. You will notice a larger swelling (entasis) at half height on the shafts of the columns of the Basilica.
Besides that, in the Basilica, the echinus (a sort of astragal below the abacus, in the capitals) is lower than that of theTempleofNeptunethat has a milder sweep. Such characteristics (entasis, lower echinus) of the Dorinc style seem to express that the full weight of the upper structures rests on the columns. The cells of the two temples are also quite dif-ferent. The cell is the sacred room inside the temple, where the statue of the deity was kept. Though very little remains of the walls enclosing the cell, we can easily notice that the cell of the Temple of Poseidon was divided into three naves by two lines of columns, while that of the Basilica presents only a colonnade in the middle and therefore only two naves (as in the earliest Greek temples). It is interesting that the three naves partition, typical of the classical Doric style, has been inherited by the Christian churches. We see two altars rising out of theTempleofPoseidon, on the east side. The biggest one is Greek. The Romans cut it and built the smaller one in order to open a road leading to the Forum. A coat of white stucco (a mixture of baked plaster) covered the temples. There are still some traces left on the columns of theTemple of Neptune. The roofs consisted of wooden beams and terra cotta tiles. Because of the nature of such materials, the roofs went lost.
The walls of the town. From the ouside of the Basilica we can see a stretch of the southern side of the walls that surrounded the whole town. The walls were almost five kilometres long,15 metreshigh and 5-7 metresbroad. A deep moat full of water and 24 round or square watch-towers surrounded them. The walls were built on the edge of a pentagonal calcareous bank, perhaps in order to prevent them from being damaged by earthquakes.
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About the Author

Daniele Davide, manager of Tredy Sas.
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