Temple B is one of the most important examples of sacred architecture in Hellenistic Sicily, and its location within the main urban sanctuary of Selinunte is particularly prominent, placed beside Temple C, the old, venerable temple of Apollo. In addition, Temple B raises interesting questions about cultural identity and how it is reflected in architecture and ritual practice. Although Temple B was erected at a time in which Selinunte was under Carthaginian control and inhabited by a mixed Greek and Punic population, it appears as a purely Greek cult building.
First and foremost, however, Temple B represents one of the milestones in the modern rediscovery of the polychromy of ancient architecture. Temple B is "Hittorff's Temple," so called because it played a major role in the life and doctrines of the French-German architect Jacob Ignaz Hittorff, one of the leading European architects of the 19th century. Hittorff's theories about the role of polychromy in ancient Greek architecture were based in large part on his study of Temple B.
The investigation of this series of historiographic, architectural, and archaeological problems was the motivating force behind our first three years of operation. During this period, we conducted a systematic program of graphic and digital documentation of Temple B and the other buildings in the southern sector of the main urban sanctuary of Selinunte. Additionally, we performed a new topographical, architectural and archaeological investigation of our area of operation.
THE EXCAVATIONS IN THE AREA OF TEMPLE B
During our first three years of operation, parallel to our topographical and architectural investigation of Temple B and the southern sector of the sanctuary, we also carried out a systematic archaeological investigation of the area. This archaeological investigation consisted of a series of trenches that were opened in the areas corresponding to the foundations of Temple B and its altar, the South Building, and the peribolos wall.
The last excavation in this area of the sanctuary dates back to 1876. Before the beginning of our work, it was assumed that the bedrock was located only a few centimeters below the current ground level. Contrary to this assumption, however, our excavations have revealed the presence of a significant number of undisturbed archaeological layers between the current ground level and the bedrock, which, in some places, is located at a depth of 2.50-3.00 meters. As a result, during the first three campaigns, a coherent and impressive stratigraphic sequence from the Late Classical period all the way back to the Bronze Age was identified. Our excavations offer a significant contribution to the general knowledge of the history of Selinunte, in general, and of this specific part of the sanctuary, in particular.