Archeology: Selinunte site unearths new finds near Temple R

Project of New York University and University of Milan

26 July, 14:34

    MARINELLA DI SELINUNTE - Students and archaeologists from New York University (NYU) and the University of Milan (UniMi) brought to light new evidence of ancient life with four discoveries at Temple R in Selinunte.
    The mission led by professors Clemente Marconi, Rosalia Pumo and Andrew Ward brought the discovery of part of a monumental platform on two levels that was likely used to house the main altar of Temple R, the oldest in the city, dated archaeologically to 570 BC.
    It is a historical testimony of two different phases of the city: the lower platform dates to the years of construction of Temple R; while the higher platform, more monumental, dates to the 5th century.
    This is the same area where, in 2010, researchers with the NYU-UniMi mission found abundant remains of animal sacrifice.
    Among the finds were also two spearheads that were found burnt and crossed. "A truly exceptional case in the Greek world to find them like this," said professor Marconi.
    "It was typical of female cults to have dedications of weapons, and the finding in front of Temple R, dedicated to a goddess, is certainly not accidental," he said.
    During the excavation, a large goat's horn was also unearthed, evidence of a prestigious sacrifice to the divinity.
    A fourth artefact found was a fragment of a life-sized statue made of Parian marble.
    It is an additional piece of the arm of a kouros, a male statue with a votive function, of which a fragment of the forearm was found four years ago during the NYU-UniMi campaign.
    "This is the first time that a statue of this type in marble and life-size has been discovered in Selinunte," said Clemente Marconi.
    "It was most likely dedicated in the sixth century and then dismembered in the fourth century and the fragments partly used as lime, with others used for Hellenistic fill".
    NYU has been excavating Temple R, the southernmost and oldest in the city, since 2010.
    An overseas university's interest in this strip of Sicily is due to the fact that Selinunte is one of the five cities in the Greek world that invested most in the construction of temples between the Archaic and Classical ages.
    "To shed full light on Temple R, another three years of excavations are still needed to better study the foundation of the temple," Marconi said.
    Sicily's regional councillor for cultural heritage, Alberto Samonà, also commented on the findings.
    "The results of the research campaign just conducted are of great importance for knowledge of the urban sanctuary built between the end of the seventh and the end of the fourth century BC," he said.
    "They provide interesting elements for the purpose of a historical reconstruction of ancient Sicily for a springtime of archaeology in Sicily, which appears more and more like a season, not only beneficial, but above all long-lasting and capable of consolidating solid international relations," he said.

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