Archaeologists discover weapon parts, temple in ancient Greek city in Italy

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Velia was part of a community of Greek colonies along the coast of southern Italy called Magna Graecia.

Archaologists have found two helmets, metal pieces believed to be from weapons and the ruins of an ancient temple in the town of Velia, Italy, where a Greek colony once lived.

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According to a report in The Guardian, the metal pieces and helmets could be traced to the Battle of Alalia during the sixth-century BCE. In the naval battle, Greek ships defeated Carthaginian and Etruscan forces.

In excavations at the site in Velia, which would have been the acropolis of the ancient settlement, archaeologists also uncovered the walls of a temple and vases with the word "sacred" on them, according to the report.

Velia was part of a group of Greek colonies along the coast of southern Italy called Magna Graecia.

There may have also been offerings at the site to the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, according to Massimo Osanna, the director-general of Italian museums.

The new findings "shed fresh light on the history of the powerful Greek colony," he said, adding that the country's culture minister Dario Franceschini said the discoveries show the need to continue to fund research.

The famous Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, went on to say that after wandering at sea for ‘8 or 10 years’ the seaborne refugees stopped in Reggio, Calabria, where Xenophanes the theologian, poet, and critic of religious polytheism joined their ranks. With their final destiny unknown, the founding fathers of Velia sailed northwards along the coast and founded the settlement of Hyele.

The original ancient Greek colony soon developed into a village, and over time, after decades of successful trading, it expanded into a town that was renamed Ele. With continued population growth the city of Elea (Velia) eventually joined Rome in 273 BC, becoming a central trading hub in ancient Lucania. The actual origin story of Velia will always remain locked in time, but the discovery of the two helmets in the ruined temple brings into sharp focus a period of deep history, about which little is known.

Top image: Helmet still in the ground at the Velia temple site. Source: Parco Archeologico Paestum