Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Paestum
Standing opposite the archaeological area, the Museo archeologico Nazionale di Paestum, which was established in 1952, is home to the extraordinary finds made in the city and district of Poseidonia-Paestum: it documents the evolution and transformations of the city, from the foundation of the Greek colony between the late 7th and the early 6th century B.C. to the institution of the Latin colony, and illustrates the changes in its social and public organisation, religious rites, aspects of daily life, art and handicrafts. An introductory section reconstructs the history of the discovery of the archaeological site; another section is devoted to prehistory, with Eneolithic grave goods from the Gaudo necropolis. An important collection in the atrium consists of the set of architectural and sculpted decorations from the excavations of the Heraion at the mouth of the Sele river. The famous archaic sandstone metopes were part of the first Thesauros: eighteen of these are dedicated to the labours of Hercules. Alongside these is a series of ex voto (terracotta fragments, vases, metal and bone objects), which the faithful offered to the goddess Hera in the sanctuary. Note the remarkable decorative lion gargoyles and the ten surviving metopes from the great temple of the Heraion, which create a continuous narrative depicting a group of female dancers.
The painted tomb slabs, of which the most famous is the Tomb of the Diver of 480-470 B.C., are of exceptional interest, as is the series of painted tombs of the Lucanian period. The use of painted tombs became very common in Paestum in the 4th century B.C., when it was under Lucanian domination.
The oldest of these frescoed slabs are decorated only in the central part, with fillets, crowns, bands or branches; later on, the use of scenes with actual figures became the norm for male tombs (mainly warriors on horseback in helmet and body armour depicted in the typical scene of the ‘return of the warrior’), while decorative elements were used for female tombs.
Through various materials, and three-dimensional and graphic reconstructions, the Roman section documents the historical development of the Latin colony from 272 B.C., the year the city was conquered by the Romans, up until its decline.
This section exhibits remarkable examples of statuary, a treasure of silver coins, and important epigraphic documents.
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