The underwater archeological park of Kaulon
In the territory of the municipality of Monasterace Marina, along the lower Ionian coast of the province of Reggio Calabria, there is one of the most significant testimonies of the old Magna-Graecia settlement of Kaulon, a colony founded in the eighth century BC. Open to the visitors there’s an Archaeological Park with the adjoining Museum on land, and the Submerged Archaeological Site.
Kaulon consisted of a major urban centre, surrounded by walls and placed at sea level. In its heyday, dating from the fourth century BC, it extended over an area of 47 hectares and had a population of 10,000 inhabitants. It was one of the richest Magna Greek cities and was in fact the first to mint silver coins!
The excavation initiatives started during the first decades of the 20th century and they revealed the various phases of the settlement. Of notable importance are the remains of the Doric Temple, probably dedicated to Jupiter Homarios, of which only the base remains. The area in front of the temple, currently covered by the sea, was occupied by the town, as evidenced by archaeological finds which bear witness to the gradual erosion of the coastline. These coastal erosion phenomena over the centuries have transformed the coastline that in the Greek period was about 300 m further east than it is today.
The underwater findings are more than 200: column blocks (parts of the shaft) and bases of Ionic columns, square blocks of various sizes, rough quarry blocks and mooring bollards. Some of them and are now displayed in the Underwater Archaeology Section of the Museum. However, most of them are still underwater, visible to those who wish to dive in the magic Ionian Sea.
In addition, it’s worth to mention the MUSAS project whose aim is to enhance the underwater heritage of Italy and to reach this goal it has been cataloging and 3D modeling the underwater artifacts of several sites, including Kaulon, giving rise to a digital museum open to everyone!
Author: Francesca Politi - JUMP Team
Photo Courtesy of Alfina and Mario Tassone www.divingcenterpuntastilo.it