Museo e Parco archeologico nazionale di Locri
The ancient city of Epizephyrian Locris, overlooking the Ionian Sea and founded in the 7th century BC by Greeks from Locris, stands in the territory of Reggio Calabria, rich in archaeological evidence from prehistory to the Byzantine age.
Epizephyrian Locris is one of the most important colonies of Magna Graecia. An active commercial centre in the Mediterranean, the city is also remembered for its landscape and for its flourishing culture, attested by archaeological evidence. Some musical instruments, for example, highlight the Locrians’ love of music, also narrated by the poet Pindar.
The archaeological site reconstructs the history of the colony during the VI-III centuries BC up to the transformations during the Roman age.
The visit to the archaeological area unfolds between public and private structures. The following areas are particularly important:
- the residential-artisanal district of Centocamere,
- the so-called Stoà, a U-shaped porticoed structure,
- the theatre (IV century BC), which also underwent interventions in Roman times.
The many sacred areas, dedicated to Demeter, to Zeus the Thunderer, that of Marasà and the Casa dei Leoni (House of the Lions) with the sacellum dedicated to Aphrodite, offer a vivid image of the cults practiced by the inhabitants of Locri. The central area of the site tells us about Roman Locri, which became a municipium in 89 BC, when the city built new public buildings, including the Forum and a thermal complex.
Inside the Park there is the Museo archeologico nazionale (National Archaeological Museum), which also houses the Museo dei Ragazzi (a parallel exhibition dedicated to children) and the Casino Macrì. Moreover, in the town centre of Locri, it is possible to visit the Museo di Palazzo Nieddu del Rio, which exhibits the remains of the pre-protohistoric age. The grave goods displayed here document the indigenous presence from the 9th century BC to the age when the colony was founded.
The Museum of the Magna Graecia polis
The National Archaeological Museum documents the productions of Locrian craftsmen with significant artefacts such as the pinakes (votive tablets), the terracotta offerings to the gods, the bronze mirrors and the tablets from the Archivio di Zeus Olimpio (Archive of Olympian Zeus).
Ceramic productions from different areas of the Greek and insular world are also exhibited, evidence of the intense commercial exchanges of Locri.
The exhibition is completed by architectural elements recovered from the buildings of the city.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, in Mannella, immediately outside the city walls, Paolo Orsi identifies the Persephoneion, a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Persephone, already mentioned by the historian Livy. The pinakes, small polychrome terracotta votive tablets offered by the faithful, which depict scenes linked to the myth of the goddess, come from this area.
The pinakes were manufactured by Locrian artisans during the first half of the fifth century BC, with the use of matrices (81 different ones were found), and decorated with vivid colours. Archaeologists have recovered and classified thousands, distinguishing them in ten groups according to the scene they depict.
The Casino Macrì museum complex
Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the princes of Carafa di Roccella built a two-storey traditional farmhouse flanked by two small farm-type houses on the walls of a thermal building, dated between the I and II century AD, now transformed into a multifunctional exhibition centre.
The lack of some functional elements of the thermal plants, such as the raised floors for positioning the suspensurae (small square-based pillars) or the finishes, has led archaeologists to hypothesise that the building was never completed, for reasons still unknown.
On the second floor of the main building it is possible to visit the museum dedicated to the Roman Age and to Late Antiquity, which tells the story of Locri and of the area of Locris which became part of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century AD.
The portrait statue of the Togatus
The portrait statue of the Togatus, dated to the II century AD, was found in a small public building in the central area of the Roman city, which fell into disuse between the 5th and the 6th century AD.
Made of extraordinary marble from the town of Luni, the sculpture depicts an authoritative male character of the municipium of Locri with the toga, the traditional dress of Roman citizens during peacetime, wearing the calcei patricii, shoes consisting of five strips of leather knotted together, on his feet.
The statue, intentionally broken into three parts, is matched with a portrait head carved from a single block of white marble, the work of an artist linked to Rome’s artistic-cultural environment. In Roman times, the heads which depicted the person for whom the work was intended were carved separately and subsequently placed on the statues which were “mass” produced.
Strada Statale 106 Jonica - Contrada Masarà
Wednesday - Sunday 9.00-20.00, last entry 19.00
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