Selinunte – Day 46

October 30, 2007

Charlie Dunn and Dominic Machado Reporting


After a quick breakfast in Agrigento, we left the comfort and hospitality of the bed and breakfast Corte dei Greci and headed for the bus. After a long bus ride, we happily entered the archeological park at Selinunte. There we took in the beautiful and strategic location of Selinunte, a town near the sea and between two rivers (ancient roads) with an acropolis overlooking the Mediterranean.


We began the day listening to Professor Stewart lecture on the history of Selinunte. We learned that Selinunte was founded as a colony of Megara Hyblaea in 628 BCE. By 570 BCE, Selinunte was able to found a colony of its own at Heraclea Minoa. Professor Stewart explained to us how to interpret this action. She told us that ancient economies were subsistence based and therefore required land to feed a growing population. When the population would grow too large and food would become scarce, Greek cities would alleviate the problem by sending people to create a colony on new land. The growth of city population often correlated with the prosperity of the city, as was indicated at Selinunte by their possession of a treasury at Olympia. We also learned that Selinunte was governed by tyrants, who did what tyrants typically do – build.


At Selinunte we were able to see the evidence of this building, six temples, A-G. We were particularly impressed by temple E, which contained both an adyton and an opisthodomos.  Even more so, we were excited to see the highly visible swell in its stereobate, which became even clearer to us after Greg sketched a drawing of it. At this point, we took a short break to enjoy the sandwiches that Professor Stewart and others had prepared earlier that morning. 


After lunch, we surveyed temple F, noting the two rows of columns in the front. Indeed, Selinunte familiarized us with very unique forms of temple architecture. From there we moved onto temple G, one of the largest Greek temples ever built, similar in size to Juno at Samos and Artemis at Ephesus. As we climbed through the remains of the temple in the hope of analyzing the frontal architecture, Professor Stewart had an unfortunate fall, losing a Birkenstock in the process. Fortunately, she rebounded from her fall and was able to lead us to the acropolis, where we studied the remaining temples. From here we could look out on the Mediterranean beach, where we would swim later that day.


After a full day of field-work, we returned to our hotel and headed to the beach. We enjoyed a nice dinner at Hotel Admeto, the husband hotel of our residence, Hotel Alceste. This was a very interesting set-up of hotels because of their mythological connection. Admetus was promised by Apollo to not die, if he could find someone to die in his place. However, neither of his parents were up to the task and so his wife, Alcestis, lovingly died in his place. While our hotel was by no means dead or unfortunate, we appreciated the upscale meal at the Hotel Admeto.