IFA Excavations at Selinunte

MAIN URBAN SANCTUARY

The Main Urban Sanctuary of Selinunte is a large temenos surrounded by a peribolos wall located on the city's southern hill, also known as the Acropolis. The area contains Temples C, D, R and S, as well as a large L-shaped stoa and monumental altar: all these buildings belong to the Archaic period. Temple B and its altar, located to the south of Temple C, belong to the Hellenistic period.

Archaeological evidence suggests that this area was a site for cult practices beginning in the first generation of the city in the 7th century BCE, but was only monumentalized around 560 BCE. This sixth century project of monumentalization, which included the erection of peripteral Temples C and D, possibly followed the destruction of the area by an earthquake or fire.

The east end of the sanctuary, where the large stoa stood, sits on a large artificial terrace, built ca. 550 BCE. This terrace is contained by a strong retaining wall of ashlar masonry, 9.8 m high. Pyramidal in section, this exceptional terrace wall follows the topography of the acropolis. The stepped east face of the wall remains visible to this day.

The sanctuary was functional throughout the Archaic and Classical periods. In the Hellenistic period, and until Selinunte's abandonment in the third century BCE, this area was used for a variety of functions: part of it continued to serve for religious practice, while the rest was transformed into the civic center or was used for housing.