The Lucanians


Sometime around 400 BC, Paestum or rather Poseidonia,  was conquered by the Lucanians.  The Lucanians  were one of the Samnite peoples who occupied much of  central Italy and were the greatest rivals to Rome. In the fourth century they were expanding and their expansion led them to conquer Poseidonia, though the exact date of this is unknown. Paestum remained Lucanian until 273 BC when it was conquered by Romans and became a Roman colony.

Although Poseidonia now became Lucanian,  and the language spoken was Oscan rather than Greek, Greek culture continued to survive and even flourish with a lively vase painting industry in Paestum itself, with the vase  painters painting  vases in the Greek fashion and signing  their names in Greek. There are few architectural remains of the Lucanians within the city, but nevertheless occupation flourished in the countryside where the number of settlements increases significantly.

The Lucanian period  is best known from the considerable number of tombs that are found in the surrounding area often with elaborate wall paintings. The best of these are on display in the museum and we see some of them here

This is everyone’s favourite, a cart and  being  led home by a farm labourer. Unfortunately the actual picture of the cart has not survived but possibly it may not  be a typical rural idyll  but rather a sad journey to the cemetery



And here is a general view of one of the graves as reconstructed showing how it was laid out with the  walls painted in the interior









Many of the  pictures were of the favourite pursuits of the living in his lifetime.  Here is a lion hunt with the doughty warrior about to spear a fierce lion.








And here is another favourite,  two charioteers in full swing, though they appear to be in somewhat miniature chariots.  Perhaps it is not a chariot race but a funeral procession







Not all the tombs were of men:  this one was of a woman and here we see two women mourners at the end of the tomb.












Finally here is a general view of the gallery containing the Lucanian wall paintings. It must be said that they are rather cruder than those in the classical Greek period as displayed in the Tomb of the Diver at the end of their in the previous century, but they have an enthusiasm that is  infectious



On to the Paestum vase painters

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