In the early 1900s, archaeologist Paolo Orsi unearthed the remains of the ancient Achaean colony of Kaulon, now Monasterace Marina Archaeological Park.
The Majestic Doric Temple of Monasterace
The discovery of the ancient Achaean colony of Kaulon is due to the work of the great archaeologist Paolo Orsi. He was the first, in the early 20th century, to identify the site in today’s Punta Stilo, just north of modern Monasterace Marina. During the construction of the Punta Stilo lighthouse, architectural terracotta was found at the base of the hill where the lighthouse was to be built.
Today, the site is home to the Monasterace Marina Archaeological Park. This site features a remarkable amount of finds visible on the surface, including a majestic Doric temple, dating back to the 5th century B.C., with a perfectly preserved sandstone basement. The building – 41 metres long by 18.20 metres wide – featured a cella with a pronaos, a front entrance portico, and stairs going up to the roof made of marble tiles from Paros.
Monasterace’s Unique Mosaics
This Archaeological Park also has a museum exhibition reconstructing the history of the ancient colony. Of particular note are two uniquely beautiful mosaics, both depicting a dragon. One of them, with its 25 square metres surface, is thought to be one of the largest mosaics ever found in Europe. Other artefacts of considerable interest are the ‘Tabula Cauloniensis’ – a tablet dedicated to Zeus dating back to the 5th century B.C. and written in the Achaean alphabet –, as well as numerous silver coins. As a matter of fact, the polis of Kaulon was the first in the world to mint coins with this precious metal, which at the time was mined in the hinterland Stilaro valley.
Submerged Ancient Kaulon
Archeological artefacts that have emerged due to coastal erosion have spurred underwater excavation campaigns, that have exposed the site of the submerged ancient Kaulon. Numerous architectural elements were found, including finely decorated column shafts from Doric-style temples and buildings.