Friday, August 25, 2017

METAPONTUM, ITALY, FOUNDED IN THE LATE 8TH CENTURY BCE

Metapontum (Greek: Metapontion, modern name: Metaponto) is located on a fertile plain which stretches along the southern coastline of the Basilicata region of southern Italy. The city, situated at the mouths of the Bradano and Basento Rivers, was founded by the Achaeans of the Greek Peloponnese c. 720 BCE as part of the wave of Greek colonization from the 8th century BCE onwards across the entire region of southern Italy. Archaeological evidence points to the presence on the site of an earlier Italian town which then displays evidence of Greek culture. A fully-Greek settlement seems to date from c. 630 BCE.

Metapontum, along with such local rivals as Tarentum (modern Taranto) and Siris (modern Nova Siri), became one of the most prosperous cities in the region which would become known as Magna Graecia. Controlling an extensive area of the lands around the city - some 200 km2 - the success of the colony was largely based on agriculture, fishing and horse-breeding and is attested by the extensive and regular divisions of land in the area with over 850 accompanying small farms which were used over several generations. It is not known if such farmsteads were inhabited all year round or inhabited only during the growing season and then used as storehouses. The average plot of land at Metapontum measures 9 hectares which is larger than the 5 hectares needed to support a single family in the ancient Mediterranean and perhaps indicative of the greater space available in the Greek colonies and so their attraction for emigrants from the homeland.

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