Exploring the Ruins
The Greeks established the colony of Poseidonia -- the name Paestum is Roman -- in the 7th century B.C., around the same time that the nearby Sanctuary of Hera Argiva was built. The town flourished for almost 3 centuries but its fortunes dramatically declined after it was overtaken by the Lucanians, a local mountain people, in the 4th century B.C. Only when the Romans established the colony of Paestum in 273 B.C. did the city revive, quickly growing wealthy from its agricultural and commercial activity. The city lost its supremacy during the Middle Ages, when the inhabitants were forced into the hills by repeated Saracen attacks and the spread of malaria (caused by the fertile plain's transformation into marshland). The Normans arrived in the 11th century, plundering the temples and other buildings for their statuary. The ruins remained known but undisturbed for centuries until the state road was built in the 18th century and the first archaeological studies were performed.
Note: The archaeological area is not huge, but the two temples dedicated to Hera are some way from the one dedicated to Athena, and you should be prepared to walk; wear comfortable shoes, and carry water and a hat, particularly if it's hot.
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