July 25, 2010

The Graeco-Roman city of Paestum

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Available on iTunes and OU Podcasts

Another of the numerous Open University podcasts, this series of videos gives an overview of the town of Paestum, located in Campania. The town was originally called Poseidonia when founded by Greek colonists in the 7th century BC. There are 4 videos totalling just over 20 minutes in length. They are available in iPod or a larger (640×360) format. There are also transcripts. The visuals are of the modern ruins or of artefacts recovered from the town.

Modern day Paestum is dominated by three big temples built by the Greek founders. The first video spends some time on these temples and the time in which they were built. Unfortunately, the site was excavated in haste in the last century and damaged in the process. Despite this there is evidence of variations from established Greek culture. There are 24 flutes on the temples’ columns rather than the traditional 20. The second video shows paintings from an archaic Greek tomb. In the 5th century BC Poseidonia was conquered by a nearby tribe – the Lucanians. The third video focuses on some funeral paintings from this period. Despite the Lucanians’ reputation as barbarians, there is little physical evidence of disruption from this period in the city, and they must have been largely Hellenised. There was a large discontinuity to the city when it became Roman in 273BC and renamed Paestum. Much of the city was rebuilt in the Roman style although the temples remained intact. The fourth video deals with this period.

An interesting, but very short and narrowly focused, series.


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