if you’re looking for greek gold, it’s better than villa julia in rome. it’s off the beaten path at the bottom of italy. it’s the newly re-opened museo nazionale archeologico di taranto and it’s awsome.
i was able to get permission to shoot photographs of the collection and you can find those here.
the little catalog that goes the gold collection has rather poor photographs but interesting information. i think a good summer project would be to translate the text of the catalog and use my photos for a new one.
in the meantime here’s what we’re talking about:
Taranto was founded in 706 BC by Dorian Greek immigrants as the only Spartan colony, and its origin is peculiar: the founders were Partheniae, sons of unmarried Spartan women and Perioeci (free men, but not citizens of Sparta); these unions were permitted by the Spartans to increase the number of soldiers (only the citizens of Sparta could become soldiers) during the bloody Messenian wars, but later they were nullified, and the sons were forced to leave. Phalanthus, the parthenian leader, went to Delphi to consult the oracle: the puzzling answer designated the harbour of Taranto as the new home of the exiles. The Partheniae arrived in Apulia, and founded the city, naming it Taras after the son of the Greek sea god, Poseidon, and of a local nymph, Satyrion. According to other sources, Heracles founded the city. Another tradition indicates Taras as the founder of the city; the symbol of the Greek city (as well as of the modern city) depicts the legend of Taras being saved from a shipwreck by riding a dolphin that was sent to him by Poseidon. Taranto increased its power, becoming a commercial power and a sovereign city of Magna Graecia, ruling over the Greek colonies in southern Italy. Its independece and power came to an end as the Romans expanded throughout Italy. Taranto won the first of two wars against Rome for the control of Southern Italy: it was helped by Pyrrhus, king of Greek Epirus, who surprised Rome with the use of elephants in battle, a thing never seen before by the Romans. The second war was conversely won by Rome, that afterwards cut off Taranto from the centre of Mediterrean trade, by connecting the Via Appia directly to the port of Brundisium.