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The archaeological area of MarasÓ (from the name of the modern district)
is located right behind the National Archaeological Museum of Locri Epizephyrii and is characterized by the presence of
a large sanctuary whose main components can be appreciated still nowadays: the
temenos (the area consecrated to the deity where all the structures used for the worship were located); the altars and the
The first systematic study of the area dates back to the XIX century and was made by archaeologist Paolo Orsi.
Later on the place was further investigated and the excavation area continuously expanded; despite this the original
boundaries of the temenos have not been identified yet.
By studies made, the scholars have been able to learn that the sanctuary
was probably established towards the middle of the VII century b.C. (therefore not long after the foundation of the
polis). Of the beautiful temple in ionic order that characterized the sanctuary unfortunately very few ruins have
reached our age (particularly a small part of the western side
of the crepidoma) mostly because of the systematic removal,
carried out in the XIX century, of the limestone blocks (reused in the construction of modern structures) that formed
the crepidoma of the temple. However such removal allowed Paolo Orsi to study the remains of the archaic temple,
which otherwise would have remained covered by the structures of the
THE TEMPLE - Click on the image to view the
Photo Section of MarasÓ
early-archaic temple, made of sandstone blocks, dates back to the VII century
b.C. and consisted in an elongated cella (naos) with
pronaos that altogether measured 22 metres in length and approximately
8 metres in width. Contemporary to it are other structures found within the
temenos; particularly must be pointed out
two stone platforms on which, probably, stood the archaic altars.
Towards the middle of the VI century b.C. the temple was modified. This time the perimetral walls were made
blocks and the cella took the typical archaic structure with the so-called
"pieno in asse", namely the presence of a single
row of wooden columns found along the central axis of the
cella, thus dividing the chamber in two aisles.
A row of four
columns was placed both in front of the pronaos and behind the
cella, and the whole structure was enclosed in a
so shaping the temple as hexastyle-peripteral, with a length of 35,5 metres (and, probably, 14 columns on both sides
lengthwise) and a
width of 17 metres.
In the first half of the V century b.C. the temple underwent a new transformation, this time more radical. The original
structure was, in fact, demolished and thus was started the construction of a totally different type of temple, also with
a change in the axial orientation compared to the previous building. The new temple,
whose dimensions were
greater than those of the archaic structure (with a length of 45,5 metres - and 17 columns on both side
lengthwise - and a width
of 19 metres), was built in ionic order through the use of limestone blocks of excellent quality, probably imported
from Syracuse. This new temple was as well hexastyle-peripteral and the
peristasis enclosed a cella with pronaos and
In what used to be the central point of the
cella of the ionic temple it's still possible, nowadays, to observe the remains of a
bothros (a votive pit or enclosure) whose outer walls it's believed were decorated by the so-called "Ludovisi Throne"
THE BOTHROS Click on the image to view the Photo Section of MarasÓ
western front of the ionic temple belonged the marble sculptures known as the Dioscuri
that, together with a headless statue of a
Nereid (brought to light few years before the Dioscuri), were
probably placed within the pedimental triangle (tympanon)
or as an acroterial decoration.
Contemporary to the Ionic temple, and about 15 metres away from its eastern front, was
built a great
altar (of the size of 12,80 x 2,60 metres), made of the same material used for the construction of the
Despite the extensive studies that have been dedicated to the
sacred area and, particularly, to the temple, it's still difficult to determine to which deity it was
dedicated. The main hypothesis indicates Aphrodite on the basis of the importance that her worship had
amongst the ancient Locrians and because of the discovery of some votive terracottas dedicated to her. Other
theories, however, indicate Zeus (due to the discovery of terracottas depicting him) or the Dioscuri (due to
the discovery in the area of the marble group of which it was said previously).
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