于人之思想中构建和平

Paestum: discovery of the first ancient Greek frescoes

In summer, 1968, the first Greek frescoes known to have survived to the present day were uncovered in a burial ground near the famed temples of Paestum in the Italian province of Lucania. They were painted in about 480 B.C. In 1969, further tombs were discovered, also ornamented with many frescoes. These were the work of Lucanian artists, but were in the same Greek style or showed evidence of a strong Greek influence.
 
The great painted frescoes of the classical era were doomed to destruction at the hand of man. The ravages of war and Roman plundering, coupled with the fragility of the surfaces used by painters of classical times, combined to deprive us of the paintings that once adorned the walls of Propylaea and private homes.
 
At that time Paestum was still called Poseidonia. Situated about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of present day Naples on the Gulf of Salerno, it was one of the most important cities of Magna Graecia. Its institutions, language, religion, art were all Greek. The Lucanian mountain folk had not yet come down from the surrounding heights to drive out the Greek colonists. The paintings from the "Tomb of the Diver" are, therefore, stylistically, culturally and even politically speaking Greek. There can be no doubt that they were painted by a Greek hand. This was an unprecedented find. In the words of Superintendent Mario Napoli, it represents "the first and only Greek painting of the archaic or classical period found anywhere thus far." The same enthusiasm is shared by the world's leading experts on Greek art and archaeology. 
 

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1970 April