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Before the city


A lucky combination of environmental features - abundant river sources, fertile agricultural land, pastures and woods - facilitated the development of a highly stratified social structure, evidence of which has been provided by the discovery of large numbers of funeral gifts dating back to the 8th century BC.

Constant contact with coastal peoples ensured that the social microcosm of Volcei gradually absorbed many typically Greek concepts and customs such hunting, athletics and especially banqueting. The discovery of large numbers of bronze sìtulae, jugs used to hold water for mixing with wine at banquets, and large, locally manufactured vases known as nestorìdes, dating back to the 6th century BC, confirms that the local aristocracy enjoyed both dining together and meeting in symposiums.

Throughout the 5th century BC, banqueting became an increasingly popular pastime. The nestorìdes were gradually replaced by large Grecian-style craters and shiny black, locally manufactured earthenware vases. As from the middle of the 4th century BC, a dominant social class began to emerge: the funeral gifts buried in the area at that time began to include precious objects, jewels and Greek-style vases decorated with red figures produced by artists from Apulia, Lucania and mostly Paestum.

A set of funeral offerings – probably buried in honour of a women – discovered undamaged on the northern slopes of the hill, include a fine necklace, earrings, a bracelet, several rings, one of which is a cornelian engraved with an illustration of Aphrodite teaching Eros to shoot, as well as silver vases and a gold and silver trousse.

A little higher up the hill, in a man’s tomb, it was possible to identify a number of painted stones. The funeral offerings include a vase by Asstèas, an extraordinary artist who worked in Paestum, and a crater illustrating the story of Ixìon.