National Museum of Siritide and Metaponto ruins

Museo della Siritide

The Siritide National Museum of Policoro is located near the remains of the ancient Greek towns of Siris-Herakleia. It is dedicated to the Greek colonies of Siris (VII-VI centuries B.C.) and Herakleia (V century B.C. - I/II centuries A.D.), and to the Italic civilisations of the valleys of the rivers Agri and Sinni. The archaeological finds are showcased according to topographic and chronological criteria, and show how life was like in these two Greek colonies, with regard to everyday activities, economy, religion and handicraft. The finds come from the towns but also from the necropolises, where the so called "Tomb of Policoro" was found.

Metaponto was an ancient Greek colony, whose remains represent a great open-air museum. The Archaeological park and the temple called "Tavole Palatine" are its major attractions.


In the year 280 B.C., the battle of Heraclea took place between the Roman troops under the command of Consul Publius Valerius Laevinus and the combined forces of Greeks from Epirus, Tarentum, Thurii, Metapontum, and Heraclea under the command of King Pyrrhus of Epirus.
The battle took place in the territory of Heraclea, in the area where the town of Policoro is now located.
Pyrrhus set up camp in the plain near the river Siris (modern Sinni), between Pandosia and Heraclea.
He helped Tarentum by deploying 25500 soldiers and 20 elephants. These animals, unknown to the Romans, were crucial for the victory. In this battle, the Greek and the Roman civilisations clashed for the first time.

From a political point of view, the Greek-Epirot victory soon proved gainful for the coalition because, after this battle, many towns of Magna Graecia (or Great Greece) asked the Epirot king for protection. From a military point of view, however, the victory did not prove gainful, since many Latin towns and towns in Campania remained faithful to the Roman Republic.

The Tables of Heraclea date back to this period and are currently kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. They are bronze tables with Greek texts on them, concerning the towns public and constitutional rules. On the back side of these tables, the "lex Iulia Municipalis" is written in Latin.

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