Over the centuries many travelers have
written about the ancient Locri Epizephyrii in their travel accounts; reports through which
we learned about the state of conservation of the ruins of the ancient city through the
we owe the first proper study of the ancient Locri Epizephyrii to
d'Albert, Duc de Luynes who, in addition to the excavation of the temple of "Casa
Marafioti", also made the first plan of the ancient city; plan that was published in
1830 by the Institute of Archaeological Correspondence of Rome.
Afterwards Locri Epizephyrii was the object of study of Pasquale Scaglione, a native of
Gerace, that in 1856 published his work entitled "Storie di Locri e di Gerace" (Histories
of Locri and Gerace), still important nowadays for the large number of information
provided regarding the area of the ancient city, information that, otherwise, wouldn't have
reached our age.
However, the real beginning of the modern archaeological history of Locri Epizephyrii was in 1889 when
a young Italian archaeologist from the town of Rovereto, Paolo Orsi, was sent to Locri by the Ministry of National
Education to assist (but, especially, "to oversee"), the famous German archaeologist
Petersen who had obtained a permission to lead a German excavation campaign on the Locrian
territory. Campaign that, thanks to Orsi's help, was a success and allowed an accurate study of the
Temple of Marasà (during this campaign was also recovered
the marble group of the Dioscuri which decorated the pediment of
the ancient temple).
Years went by, and during those years the archaeological site was once again left to itself and the news of ravages and
looting were the order of the day.
Until 1907 when, with the establishment of the Superintendencies to better protect the national archaeological
heritage, the Superintendence for Calabria was created and entrusted to
Paolo Orsi, that firmly wanted that job, after his first
fortunate experience in the Locrian land.
And in fact Paolo Orsi promptly began a long series of successful excavation campaigns not only in Locri
Epizephyrii, but also in other important archaeological sites in Calabria. During this period, in Locri, he brought
light the Persephoneion (with the discovery of the Pinakes),
the native necropoleis of Canale and Janchina, the Greek necropoleis of Monaci district and Lucifero district; he completed the exploration
of the temple of "Casa Marafioti" (with the discovery of the famous terracotta
statue group known as Marafioti Horseman),
picked up an impressive amount of data, even through small excavations in
various areas of the city, and completed the plans of all the areas
explored until then.
The activity in Locri of the archaeologist from Rovereto ends in 1915 (while he will continue to work on other archaeological sites in Calabria
through 1925); and so, once again, the archaeological work in the area was suspended for a long period.
Until 1940, when it was taken up by prof. Paolo Enrico Arias who discovered the
Shrine of "Grotta
Caruso" and, above all, he recognized and brought (partially) to light the Theatre.
In 1950 the excavation activity was again resumed by the then Director of the National School of Archaeology of Rome, prof.
Gaspare Oliverio, who began the work of
excavation in Centocamere
district. These excavations focused on a very large area of the ancient
city, bringing to light an entire neighborhood, allowing the scholars to
better deepen the knowledge of some aspects of what once was the daily
life in the ancient Locri Epizephyrii. Excavations that were not
completed due to premature death, in 1956, of prof. Oliverio.
However the archaeological activity in the ancient city was not interrupted and, in the same year (1956),
Alfonso De Franciscis resumed the investigation of the area of Marasà and completed the excavation of the Theatre.
The same De Franciscis carried out the study of the Bronze Tablets (discovered in 1959) of the
Sanctuary of Olympian Zeus and some minor excavations.
In 1969 the Archaeological Superintendence for Calabria and the University of Turin sign their first agreement and,
since that moment to the present day, with a succession of scholars such as Giorgio Gullini and
Marcella Barra Bagnasco, such agreement has led to a long and active cooperation that has
considerably contributed to let us better understand the ancient polis that once was one of the most
flourishing cities of Magna Graecia, as well as having allowed to put in place projects aimed at preserving for the
future generations those monuments that, already brought to light, have become an heritage for everyone.
But the ancient Locri has not yet finished to amaze us; as a matter of fact only a small part of the territory of
the ancient city has been explored and therefore, over the coming years, new wonders will undoubtedly emerge from
the Locrian soil.