Archaeologists uncover ancient helmets and temple ruins in southern Italy

Finds date to sixth-century BC Battle of Alalia, in which the Greeks defeated Etruscans and Carthaginians

Two ancient warrior helmets, metal fragments believed to have come from weapons, and the remains of a temple have been discovered at Velia, an archaeological site in southern Italy that was once a powerful Greek colony.

Experts believe the helmets, which were found in good condition, and metal fragments date to the sixth-century BC Battle of Alalia, when a Greek force of Phocaean ships clinched victory over the Etruscans and their Carthaginian allies in a naval battle off the coast of Corsica. One of the helmets is thought to have been taken from the enemies.

The excavations at Velia, which is near Paestum, the vast archaeological park of ancient Greek ruins in the southern Campania region, also yielded the remains of walls of a temple and vases with the Greek inscription “sacred”. The relics were discovered on what would have been the acropolis, or upper part, of the ancient Greek city.

Massimo Osanna, the director general of Italian museums, said the site probably contained artefacts of offerings made to Athena, the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, after the Battle of Alalia. After the battle, the Greek colonists set sail for southern Italy, where they bought a piece of land and founded Velia.

Velia formed part of Magna Graecia, which referred to the southern Italian coastal areas colonised by the Greeks. Velia was the birthplace of the distinguished Greek philosopher, Parmenides.

Osanna, who previously directed Pompeii archaeological park, said the discoveries “shed fresh light on the history of the powerful Greek colony”, while Dario Franceschini, the culture minister, said the finds highlighted the importance of “continuing to invest in research”.

Franceschini last week named Tiziana D’Angelo the new director of Paestum and Velia archaeological park. Aged 38, D’Angelo is among the youngest directors of a leading Italian cultural site. She takes over the role from Gabriel Zuchtriegel, who now manages Pompeii.

• This article was amended on 2 February 2022 to give the correct age for Tiziana D’Angelo.


Angela Giuffrida in Rome

The GuardianTramp

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