The presence of a port structure at Metaponto is documented in literary sources and confirmed by archaeological findings. T

he Greek historian Thucydides, in narrating the expedition sent in the fifth century BC by the Athenians against Syracuse, refers to the passage of the Athenian fleet through the Ionian Gulf and mentions the Port of Metapontion.In addition, there is the valuable description by two travellers, the Abbot de Saint-Non and F. Lenormant (late 18th and 19th centuries), of the lake of S. Pelagina, a circular artificial basin, communicating with the sea through a short channel, now obstructed.

Abandoned in the 6th century AD, its foundations were uncovered thanks to the excavation campaign conducted by the Soprintendenza Archeologica (1982-84), which provided clues to its location, allowing for the investigation of a district of port warehouses active in late antiquity.

The warehouses, arranged on the edge of a large basin, now buried (perhaps the site of the lake of S. Pelagina), attest to the use of the area as a place to store Metapontine cereal production and to import a considerable quantity and variety of oriental wines.

In the 3rd century BC the creation of a Roman garrison and a castrum caused a narrowing of the large agora, an alteration of the urban fabric and the birth of a port basin behind the sea, for military use.

Between the 4th and 5th centuries AD the situation changes and the Metapontine port appears to have been included in wide-ranging trade flows. One of the buildings excavated is an office with officials in charge of registering and controlling goods. The name of one of them, 'Tirone, servant of God', appears on a lead seal.

Today it is possible to visit, albeit from a distance, the areas of the imperial port, where the foundations of the warehouses are clearly visible.



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