Paestum, Italy

Jun 18, 2019 - Sea Cloud


We had a lazy start to the day, basking in the mirror-calm seas, swimming and listening to a talk about developing a National Geographic story. We continued our exploration of Magna Graecia, but this time at the magnificent site of Paestum on the Italian mainland. Paestum was founded toward the end of the 7th century B.C. by Greek colonists from Sybaris and was known then as Poseidonia (Neptune City). The town became a major agricultural and maritime center trading with other city-states within Magna Graecia as well as the Etruscans. It was conquered by the Lucani around 400 B.C. and came into the Roman orbit after 273 B.C. The name of the city was changed to Paestum.

Sometime after 300 A.D., the site was gradually abandoned when rising groundwater transformed the surrounding countryside into malaria-infested swamps. The very environment that caused residents to flee protected the temples and the buildings surrounding the civic Forum, so much so that the three temples here are the best preserved in Italy. Equally important are the stunning fresco-lined graves from the later Greek/Lucan period which were beautifully displayed in the site’s museum. After four hours, we returned to Agropoli to shuttle back out to Sea Cloud.

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About the Author

Robyn Woodward

Historian

Lecturing on expedition ships since 1996 has fueled Robyn’s passion for adventure, discovery, travel, art, and archaeology.  These diverse interests have carried her through several degrees, including a B.A. in the History of Art from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario; a B.Sc. in Conservation of Archaeological Materials from University College, Cardiff, Wales; an M.A. in Nautical Archaeology from Texas A&M; and finally a Ph.D. in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, in 2007. 

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