Mertens, Dieter

    Der Tempel von Segesta.  Deutsches Archaologisches Institut Rom. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz Am Rhien, 1984

Selinunte was one of the most important cities of Greek Italy, second  only to Syracuse. However, Selinunte's success soon earned it the envy of the Carthaginians who controlled pockets of western Sicily. This eventually led to the city's demise.


In 409BC, the Carthaginians sent some 100,000 men to lay siege to the Selinunte, which was only able to hold out for nine days. The subsequent sacking involved the massacre of some 16,000 of the town’s inhabitants while most of the remaining citizens were taken into slavery. Only two thousand managed to escape and make their way to Agrigento.

The archaeology of Selinunte is unique, mainly because the entire city simply ceased  to exist as a major population centre in less than two weeks.

Built between 480 and 470 BC, the peristyle measured around 40 x 16 metres along the stylobate and had 6 by 14 columns. The pronaos had a mosaic pavement depicting the Punic goddess of fertility, Tanit.  Little remains of Temple 'A' except for the rocky basement and the altar which was constructed between 490 and 460 BC. Inside there was a pronaos in antis, a naos with an adyton and an opisthodomos in antis. The naos was a step higher than the pronaos and the adyton was a step higher again. In the wall between the pronaos and the naos were two spiral staircases which led to the gallery above.