Archeological excavation of Elea Velia

The town of Velia (the Greek name is Elea) was founded by the inhabitants of Focea, a Greek town of Asia Minor conquered by Persians. According to Strabone, a writer of Greek origin that lived during the reign of Emperor Tiberius, people coming from Focea conquered a town in Enotria (this was the name used by Greek people to indicate the southern part of Italy, this name means “the land of vineyards”) and choose to live there. On the acropolis there are the remains of a small village that confirm the words by Strabone. The geographic position was strategic, in the middle of the commerce between Greece and Etruria. This is why Elea (Velia) was one of the most important towns of Magna Graecia.The town had two ports and was well protected. Elea (Velia) was not conquered by people from Lucania (Paestum was, instead). Elea (Velia) was almost always a neutral town and in this way it avoided many wars that involved the towns of Magna Graecia. During Punic wars, Elea decided to be loyal to Rome thus allowing Rome to control the Tyrrhenian Sea. In 88 b.C., Velia lost its autonomy and became a Roman municipality. Then the town started to decline for two reasons: Rome built and/or powered great roads that linked it to the Eastern world, using Adriatic Sea and there was the filling up with earth of the ports. In fact today the ports are far from the sea. Velia was now far from commercial routes and it declined, becoming a small anglers’ village. In IX century the village was abandoned because of malaria and Saracen invasions.The culture of Elea (Velia) was very important in ancient times for philosophy and the most important philosophers were Parmenide, Zeno, and Melissus of Samos. Also philosophers Senofane and Leucippus stayed in Elea. Until 62 a.C., there was an important medical school and two important grammarians, Stazio (the father of the famous Latin poet) and Palamede (II century a.C.) were from Elea.
The remains of the town were discovered in XIX century in the territory of Ascea.

One of the prides of Velia (Elea) is the Eleatic school, a Pre-Socratic philosophical school that affected philosophy of following centuries. Eleatic philosophers opposed themselves to an anthropomorphic world made of gods that were strongly humanized. They tried to pursue the search for a Being, one, eternal and unchangeable. The philosopher Senofane stayed in Elea (Velia) in his old age and he probably was the master of Parmenide.
The Eleatic school stated that senses were deceptive and were not able to investigate the Being. Only starting from certain premises, it is possible to develop knowledge and, therefore, only thought can reach the Truth, using mathematical methods.

Philosophers of Elea (Velia) made a real cultural revolution. They opposed Milesian school, whose doctrine, based on naturalistic features, considered existence as a combination of basic elements. They opposed also the theory by Heraclites that considered existence as a continuous change. Therefore, Eleatic school opposes the polytheist world and chooses a “monotheist” ideal of world. They did not believe in creation because the Being (today we could define the Being as God, not the Christian God anyway) had always existed. The main philosopher of Eleatic school was Parmenide and his pupils Zeno and Melissus of Samos.

Pink Door is one of the two entrance of the excavation. Starting from 1998 is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site

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