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The temples

by Attilio Mastrocinque


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the temple AIn the urban area of Grumentum have been discovered four temples, all of them characterized by a structure on high podium, of italic tradition.

According to an architectural typology very popular in Greek and Roman world, the statue of worship was kept in a cell, the most secret part of the temple, accessible only to priests and preceded by an open porch space (Pronao). Around the temples there are useful rooms and open spaces, suitable to guest the faithful assembled during the gods celebrations.

The shrines in Grumentum are conventionally identified, since the time of discovery, by a letter of the alphabet.


Temple A

plan of temple AThe temple A, located behind the theater stage and oriented from East to West, is surrounded by a portico, and is accessible through two small entrances from the square in front of the theater. The main entrance was from the western side, through a flight of steps that made it possible to get on the podium coated by molding gray limestone.

In front of the entrance steps is still preserved an altar (ara), also coated by gray limestone.

During the excavations in the temple A was found a marble torso representing a child, perhaps identified with the Egyptian god Harpocrates. It would be fascinating, even though not demonstrable with sufficient reliability, assume the presence of an oriental cult (in particular Egyptian) in the city of Grumentum.

It’s not clear the chronology of foundation of the temple, which had a life cycle quite long, and was abandoned about the fifth century A.C.





Temple B

plan of temple BThe temple B, next to the house of mosaics, is placed on a podium in opus incertum (that means made using, in formwork, a compound of mortar, pebbles and fragments of bricks). It is preceded by a wide open space, and flanked by useful rooms, functional for worship needs of the unknown god which was hosted and adored in this place.


the temple B

Temple C

plan of temple CThe temples C and D, both in the Forum, go back to the era of Julio-Claudian Emperors, i.e. the closest descendents of Emperor Augustus. In the building C was found a marble portrait of Empress Livia, Augustus wife.


Portrait of Livia Drusilla found in the forum during excavations led by BottiniThis important archaeological find has permitted to recognize the temple as a building dedicated to the imperial cult (i.e. an “Augusteus”). The podium, to which was possible to access by two flight of steps lateral and one in front of the building, is decorated with a frame in sandstone. The elegance and importance of the structure is also evidenced by the fine paving, currently preserved in the museum, in colored marbles (in Opus sectile) arranged in the geometrical figure of rhombus.



the temple C

Temple D

plan of temple DThe temple D is perhaps the Capitolium of Grumentum, that is the most important shrine of the city, and guests the cult of the triad Capitolina, the three main divinities of Roman Pantheon: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.

About the building, very badly preserved, remains the imposing podium, high about 3 meters, set up internally by a structure as a “wasps’ nest” (that is a webbed of walls, functional to support all the structure above) filled with sand and mold. The nucleus of the podium, realized in this way, is covered with ornaments made in opus reticolatum (prism-shaped blocks with a flat face, put in the nucleus of cement) in gray limestone.


the temple D



Copyright text and pictures (where there aren’t other references) by Attilio Mastrocinque