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The Achaean colony of Croton (present-day Crotone) was founded at the end of the VIII century B.C. by the oikistes Myscellus of Rhypes. Blessed with fertile soils, the city was renowned in ancient literature for its salubrity and its flourishing medical school. Numerous Crotoniates excelled in Panhellenic competitions, scoring an impressive number of victories.

Around the middle of the VI century B.C., Croton won an important battle against Siris, thus gaining a strong political influence. Sometime after, it suffered a crushing defeat against Locris in the battle of the river Sagra

Around 530 B.C. Pitagora arrived in Croton and founded a school that shaped the fortunes of the city, also on a political level. Shortly afterwards, the conflicts with Sybaris exacerbated and culminated in 510 B.C. in the battle of the river Traente. The Crotoniates, led by the great Olympic athlete Milo, defeated the enemy even though the Sybarites were three times as many.

Nevertheless, the rule of Pythagoreans was bound to end. A bloody rebellion led by Cilone ended up in a manhunt that put an end to Pythagoreans’ domination and provoked Pythagora’s flight towards Caulon. Together with other poleis, Crotone became a member of the Italiote League, a defensive alliance against the Italic peoples that later in 389 B.C. unsuccessfully opposed Dionysius I, Tyrant of Syracuse, in the battle of the Elleporus.

Once it entered the Roman sphere of influence as a federated city during the first decades of the 3rd century B.C. following the Second Punic War, Croton became a Roman colony in 194 B.C.

During the Middle Ages, the city became an important Byzantine garrison. In 1284, under the Aragonese rule, the Ruffos of Catanzaro became lords of Croton.  The emperor Charles V granted Croton numerous privileges and rebuilt the port and the castle.



The ancient Lacinium Promunturium with the remains of the temple of Hera

National Archeological Museum of Crotone

Many of the recovered artefacts found underwater were kept in the museum until a few years ago. Today these finds are placed in a great hall dedicated to underwater archaeology in the new museum of Capo Colonna.

Nevertheless, some interesting pieces may still be admired during the visit, while the other ones are preserved in the museum depots.

Visit the website of Polo Museale della Calabria.

Entrance to the National Archaeological Museum of Croton

National Archeological Museum and Park of Capo Colonna

The Museum was inaugurated only in 2006, but it contains many artefacts that are essential for understanding the evolution of the area of Croton, especially for its maritime history. One of the large exhibition rooms is entirely dedicated to the maritime history of this ancient Greek and then Roman colony, also thanks to a large number of wrecks and underwater sites along its shores. Built in a contemporary architectural style, the museum hosts a number of artefacts included in our virtual museum. Some of them are still not on display because they are stored in the depots.


The archaeological area close to the Museum is among the most important sites in Italy. It contains, in fact, the remains of Hera Lacinia’s temple and of the other buildings surrounding it. It was of the most venerated places of worship of the ancient world and a salient landmark for navigation, mentioned by a number of sources. Many prominent historical events took place in this area, which saw the passage of many personalities who are now part of the collective imagination.

One of the sandpits in the room entirely dedicated to underwater archaeology.

Visit the website of Polo Museale della Calabria.

Façade of the Archaeological Museum of Capo Colonna
One of the sandpits in the room entirely dedicated to underwater archaeology

Crotone and the sea

The conformation of the coast of Crotone is favourable for navigation thanks to a large number of coves, islets and semi-submerged reefs, though many vessels shipwrecked in the area during the centuries, exactly for this reason. And today, because of these characteristics, it is known as one of the archaeological areas with the highest density of wrecks in the whole Mediterranean.

The coasts of Crotone are frequently mentioned in various historical sources. However, ancient writers and historians paid a particular attention to the promontories of the area, especially the one of Lacinium, more than to the port itself.

To appropriately introduce the numerous artefacts found along the coasts of Crotone, we would like to spend a few words on the deep and long relationship between this important Calabrian centre and its sea, through a series of concise historical cards.


Capo Colonna, located south of the ancient Greek city, has always been a reference point for sailors: being the southernmost point of the Gulf of Taranto, it stands as a fundamental nautical point for vessels that are heading south towards the Strait of Messina. Furthermore, in this segment of the coastline, the shores have a more complex conformation, as two minor capes (Capo Cimiti and Capo Rizzuto) are encircling a number of bays and sheltered inlets, useful in case of bad weather. Strabo mentions them as Promontorium Lacinium (Capo Colonna) and Promontorium Iapigium (1).

                                                           The Promontory of Lacinium today, seen from above.

Since the ancient times, this morphology was attractive to populations with a natural interest in navigation, such as the Aegeans. Some evidences of this phase, covering the period after the early XVI century B.C., were found precisely nearby these promontories.

But it was not only the favourable conformation of the coast of Lacinium Promunturium that attracted various populations in the ancient times: there was also an important temple, dedicated to Hera, that quickly became one of the most important Heraia in the Greek world. Many historical sources agree on its notoriety. Among these, one can mention Plutarch2 or Livius, che lo cita come «Sanctum omnibus circa populis».3

The temple became also the seat of the Italiote League

when the power of Croton was at its peak. This was actually a political confederation of all populations of Greek origin in Italy.

Its importance and wealth were attractive also for pillagers. During the I century B.C. it was plundered twice: firstly by Mediterranean pirates and then by Sextus Pompey

fleeing from Sicily in 36 B.C. (4)

The modern toponym, Capo Colonna, is certainly related to the only column left of Hera Lacinia’s temple, visible from the sea. The temple, built in Doric monumental style with a hexastyle facade (six columns), was part of a large complex, as confirmed by the evidences found.

The Promontory of Lacinium was also the seat of a harbour mentioned in Itinerarium Maritimum. (5)

                                                          The only surviving column of the temple dedicated to Hera

From here, Annibale sailed back to Carthage in 203 B.C. (6)

In spite of this, and of its fame of a crucial nautical point, the sea is not easy to navigate in the proximity of the coast. In fact, the widespread presence of surfacing reefs witnessed many shipwrecks during the centuries, with a concentration that is hard to see in other Italian coastlines.


1 Strabo, VI, 1.11. Reference ed.: STRABONE, Geografia. L’Italia (voll. V and VI with parallel Greek text), Biraschi A.M. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1988.

2 Plut., Pomp., XXIV, 6. Reference ed.: PLUTARCO, Vite parallele. Agesilao e Pompeo (with parallel Greek text), Luppino Manes E., Marcone A. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1986.

3 Liv. XXIV, 3. 3. Reference ed.: TITO LIVIO, Storia di Roma dalla sua fondazione (with parallel latin text), Vol. 6 (Libri 24-27), Ceva B. (a cura di), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1986.

4 Plut., Pomp., XXIV, 6; App., Bell. Civ., V, 14, 133. Reference ed.: APPIANO, La storia romana, libri XIII-XVII: Le guerre civili, Gabba E. e Magnino D. (eds), Torino, UTET, 2001.

5 490, I. Reference ed.: Itinerarium Antonini Augusti et Hierosolymitanum, ex libris manu scriptis ediderunt G. Parthey et M. Pinder, Berlino, 1848

6 Liv., XXX, 20, 6

During the Late Bronze Age, there were many settlements in the area of Crotone. Mostly built on the hills and well defended, the presence of these settlements was partially documented during the Middle Bronze Age. In the same period, sub-coastal settlements were spreading as well. The stratigraphy of these sites often presents signs of metallurgical activity, as the neighbouring areas are rich in cuprite  and chalcopyrite. Not surprisingly Temesa is mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey as a place of iron and bronze trade (Homer, Od., I, 182-184).

Even the little peninsula where the modern Crotone was built has returned several facies related to a sparse settlement.

The most interesting and characteristic aspect of the Late Bronze Age in the area of Crotone is undoubtedly the heterogeneity of archaeological evidences, in particular in the areas with strong relationships with Mycenaean peoples. In that period, there was an intense activity of traders and artisans coming from the Eastern Mediterranean who brought with them their knowledge of ceramics and metals.

Probably originating from the same period, even though not chronologically confirmed yet, is an underwater discovery in the waters in front of Praialonga that can be interpreted as a vessel transporting bronze ingots. A stone anchor with a truncated-pyramidal shape was also found nearby.

The data card with a 3D-relief of the most important artefact can be found in this page.

It also contains the data card of a trapezoid-pyramidal stone anchor with a large hole on the top. Obviously, it has nothing to do with the discovery of Praialonga and its dating remains uncertain, but it is useful to understand which anchor types characterised this era.


Medaglia S. 2010, Carta archeologica della provincia di Crotone: paesaggi storici e insediamenti nella Calabria centro-orientale dalla Preistoria all’Altomedioevo, RICERCHE. Series of the Department of Archeology and History of Arts. IV. University of Calabria, Cosenza.

As we have seen, the foundation of the city of Croton is attributed to the Achaeans led by Myscellus of Ripe (VIII century B.C.)1.

It is mainly remembered for its citizen and athlete Phayllos, who provided the city with a trireme that fought in the battle of Salamis (480 B.C.)2.

The Athenians relied on Croton as a base for their ships, also during the conflict with Syracuse (415-412 B.C.) (3), but mostly after the events of 390 B.C. In fact, as much as 60 ships left Croton for Rhegion (Reggio Calabria) (4).

From the last quarter of the IV century B.C. until the foundation of the Roman colony, the city underwent profound changes that suggest its rapid decline, whose reasons might have been the following: firstly, the rising power of the Bruttians; secondly, the appearance of Rome in South Italy; thirdly, the decline of the Greek polis model. (5).

Titus Livius mentions the use of the port of Croton during the Second Punic War, giving also indications on its location, at the foot of the acropolis. The precise location of the port can be found in a Livius’ fragment where he narrates about the capture of the city by the Bruttians, with the ensuing flight of the aristocrats towards the acropolis. This situation was eventually resolved by the Locrians who, with Hannibal’s consent, offered to welcome them in their city. The optimates were embarked in a very short time thanks to the proximity of the harbour to the highest part of the city (6).

Among the underwater artefacts found along the littoral of Crotone attributable to this historical period, one of the most interesting is the wreck/site generically dating back between the VI and the IV century B.C. (Capo Colonna A) and the wreck called “Capo Piccolo A” that was transporting Corinthian and Massalian amphorae. The remains of the ship defined as  “Capo Colonna B” with her load of amphorae may be dated back to a later period, i.e. IV-III century B.C. Further south, the waters of Punta Scifo are home to two wrecks. “Punta Scifo B” had transport containers, still not classified, but datable between the III and the II century B.C. “Punta Scifo C” was instead pertaining to a ship that could be roughly dated back between the IV and the III century B.C.  In fact, it was transporting black-painted vases and amphorae of the ‘tomb 496 Lipari’ type. Some amphorae with an echinoid rim, probably of Magno-Graecian or Siceliote production, were found on the seabed of Capo Cannone, east of Le Castella.

Last but not least, in 2007, some remains of a wreck dating back to the IV century B.C were found in front of Le Castella.

Half lithic anchor block, exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Capo Colonna, with dedication by Faillo to Zeus Meilichio.


1 Diod. Sic. VIII, 17, 1-2. Reference ed.: DIODORO SICULO, Biblioteca storica. Vol. 2: Libri IV-VIII (with parallel Greek text), Cordiano G., Zorat M. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 2014.

2 Erod. VIII, 47. Reference ed.: ERODOTO, Storie. Vol. IV: libri VIII, IX, (with parallel Greek text), Izzo D’Accinni A., Fausti D., (a cura di), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1984; Paus. X, 9, 2. Reference ed.: PAUSANIA, Guida della Grecia. Vol. 10, (with parallel Greek text), Milano (Mondadori), 2017; Plut. Alex. XXXIV, 2. Reference ed.: PLUTARCO, Vite parallele. Alessandro-Cesare, Magnino D. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 2001.

3 Diod. Sic. XIII, 3, 3-5; Tuc. VII, 25, 1-2. Reference ed.: TUCIDIDE, La guerra del Peloponneso, (with parallel Greek text), Ferrari F. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1985.

4 Diod. Sic. XIV, 100.

5 Sulla storia di Crotone tra la fine del IV ed il III sec. a.C. si v. MELE 1992, pp. 19-49.; DE SENSI SESTITO G., INTRIERI 1992, pp. 21-88.

6 Liv. XXIV, 3, 15: “Ita Crotone excessum est deductique Crotoniatae ad mare naves conscendunt.” Ediz. di riferim.: TITO LIVIO, Storia di Roma dalla sua fondazione (with parallel latin text), Vol. 6 (Libri 24-27), Ceva B. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1986.



De Sensi Sestito G., Intrieri M. 1992, Crotone in età greca e romana, Crotone.

Medaglia S. 2008, Per un censimento dei relitti antichi lungo la costa crotonese. Nota preliminare, in Ricerche archeologiche e storiche in Calabria: modelli e prospettive, “Atti del convegno di studi in onore di Giovanni Azzimmaturo (Cosenza 2007)”, Cosenza, pp. 93-120.

Medaglia S. 2010, Carta archeologica della provincia di Crotone: paesaggi storici e insediamenti nella Calabria centro-orientale dalla Preistoria all’Altomedioevo, RICERCHE. Collana del Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti. IV. Università della Calabria, Cosenza

Mele A. 1992, Crotone e la sua storia dalle origini all’età romana, in Omaggio a Crotone, pp. 19-49.

The period following the establishment of several colonies by the Romans in the area of Crotone is one of the least known from the historical point of view. Certainly, after the Hannibal wars, there was a real political, economic, and demographic change.

Right during this conflict – and always in the perspective of the relationship between the city and its sea – Titus Livius recalls that the jagged conformation of the promontory of Lacinium offered a shelter to the ships (1). In 215 B.C., the ambassadors sent by Hannibal to Philip V of Macedon landed precisely in this area (2).

The Carthaginian general embarked right at Lacinium to return to Africa in 203 B.C (3).

The Romanisation of Magna Graecia could be defined as concluded at the end of the Second Punic War, with the foundation of some coloniae maritimae – including Croton – in 194 B.C. Livius recalls that these had received “trecenti homines in singulas” (4). In order to avoid wasting precious naval forces for coast patrolling, the new rulers used these cities to control naval movements. This function is evident for Croton as in 190 B.C. the prefect of the Roman fleet Gaius Livius inspected in Lacinium the ships coming from the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian Seas prior to their deployment in the Aegean Sea against Antiochus III5 the Great.

The location of the first Roman foundation is shrouded in uncertainty as well. It has always been located on the site of the modern city; however, no important phases dating back to the II and the I centuries B.C. have been found to date.

On the contrary, in Capo Colonna there were extended structures, dating back to between the mid-II century B.C. and the I century A.D., that indeed could be attributed to the colony. After this period, the colony would have moved to the area of the castle (6). Such hypothesis is not completely consistent with the certain activity of the port of Croton, mentioned by Cicero (7) and in the aforementioned Livian source.

The underwater artefacts pertaining to the early Roman rule are not numerous either, thus confirming that this period was characterised by a limited development and still needs to be studied.

A load of amphorae of Lamboglia 2 type (II-I century B.C.) was found near Torre Melissa. The same amphora type was discovered on the shipwreck of “Tonnara C”, just north of Capo Colonna. The shipwreck of “Sèleno Est” close to Le Castella, always brought back the amphorae Lamboglia 2 e Dressel 2-4.

During the early Imperial Age, the settlement of Capo Colonna was abandoned. The archaeological data show also a decline of the religious practices. On the contrary, starting from the I century A.D., Croton and its port regained their importance, as attested by the previously quoted sources. The materials found during the excavations confirm that the city was vibrant and benefited greatly from maritime trade. Unfortunately, historical data are scarce and we can get little information from epigraphs or stamps.

The archaeological research allowed for ascertaining that, in the days of the Empire, the city was surrounded by numerous villae; some of them lasted for centuries.

Just as numerous were the underwater artefacts of the Imperial age located mainly south of Crotone (9).

Among these, there is the wreck of Scoglio della Sirena, dating back to the I-II century A.D.

The scholars’ attention was especially caught by a widespread and concentrated presence of wrecks attributable to naves lapidariae, a phenomenon that makes the coast of Crotone a unique spot in the Mediterranean (10). Among these, the wrecks of Punta Scifo A and Punta Scifo D, are worth mentioning. These particular vessels were sailing in Calabrian waters for many centuries.

‘Simple’ transports of amphorae and ceramics were found on the wrecks of Tonnara A and B, Quote Cimino, Punta Scifo E, Capo Alfieri A, Marinella B, whereas tiles and brickworks were found in the wreck of Punta Scifo F.

                                                       Sculptural group of Cupid and Psyche from the wreck of Punta Scifo A


1 Liv. XXIII, 34: “… ubi navis occulta in statione erat”. Reference ed.: TITO LIVIO, Storia di Roma dalla sua fondazione (with parallel latin text), Vol. 5 (Libri 21-23), Ceva B. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1986.

2 Liv. XXXIII, 33,6. Reference ed.: TITO LIVIO, Storia di Roma dalla sua fondazione (with parallel latin text), Vol. 8 (Libri 31-33), Cardinali L. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1989.

3 Liv. XXX, 20,6. Reference ed.: TITO LIVIO, Storia di Roma dalla sua fondazione (with parallel latin text), Vol. 7 (Libri 28-30), Ceva B. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1986.

4 Liv. XXXIV, 45. Reference ed.: TITO LIVIO, Storia di Roma dalla sua fondazione (with parallel latin text), Vol. 9 (Libri 34-35), Conte G. B. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1989.

5 Liv. XXXVI, 42,1-4. Reference ed.: TITO LIVIO, Storia di Roma dalla sua fondazione (with parallel latin text), Vol. 10 (Libri 36-38), Galasso L. (eds), Milano (BUR – Rizzoli), 1997.

6 SPADEA 2004, pp. 521 ss.; RUGA, SPADEA 2005, p. 317

7 Cic., Att., IX, 19,3: “nos, quoniam superum mare obsidetur, infero navigabimus et, si Puteolis erit difficile, Crotonem petemus aut Thurios et boni cives amantes patriae mare infestum habebimus.”. It is interesting to note how Cicero mentions the port of Croton as a viable alternative, even better than Puteoli. Reference ed.: CICERONE, Lettera ad Attico, (accessed in April 2019).

8 Cfr. soprattutto MEDAGLIA 2008 e MEDAGLIA 2010, passim.

9 r. MEDAGLIA 2010, pp. 97 ff. with catalogue cards.

10 This concerns the shipwrecks of Cal Cicala, Punta Scifo A, Punta Scifo D, Capo Alfieri C, Capo Piccolo B, Sèleno est, Capo Rizzuto, Capo Bianco A, Capo Cimiti.


Medaglia S. 2008, Per un censimento dei relitti antichi lungo la costa crotonese. Nota preliminare, in Ricerche archeologiche e storiche in Calabria: modelli e prospettive, “Atti del convegno di studi in onore di Giovanni Azzimmaturo (Cosenza 2007)”, Cosenza, pp. 93-120.

Medaglia S. 2010, Carta archeologica della provincia di Crotone: paesaggi storici e insediamenti nella Calabria centro-orientale dalla Preistoria all’Altomedioevo, RICERCHE. Collana del Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti. IV. Università della Calabria, Cosenza

Ruga A., Spadea R.La domus romana di Capo Colonna (Crotone), in Morandini F., Rossi F. (eds), Domus romane: dallo scavo alla valorizzazione, Atti del Convegno di Studi, (Brescia, 3-5 April 2003) Milano 2005, pp. 317-332.

Spadea R., Tra Jonio e Tirreno. Terina, Crotone e Petelia, in Atti Taranto 2004, Napoli 2005, pp. 505-542.

The available archaeological data pertaining to the centuries between the VI and the VIII century A.D. are not sufficient to outline an exhaustive overview of settlement dynamics in the area of Crotone.

However, the city of Croton remained active and its citizens did not withdraw to the hills, unlike many other settlements on the Ionian coast. This phenomenon was due to the better defensibility of inland fortified settlements in comparison to coastal villages. Being easily accessible from the Byzantine world, the city had its strategic importance as a port. In fact, Croton was involved in the Greek-Gothic war  (535-553 d.C.) and then in the conflicts between Longobards and Byzantines (575-603). The Byzantines fortified the city in a few years (547-552) and the port welcomed their fleet in various occasions. This strategy included a number of smaller harbours which were connected with Crotone to guard and protect the whole coast. Such a function was certainly fulfilled by Le Castella, Capo Rizzuto and Lacinium (Capo Colonna).

In 596 the Longobards led by Arechis conquered the city, but their domination did not last for long, as immediately afterwards Crotone was named among the cities that were part of the Eparchy of Calabria.

As far as underwater artefacts are concerned, we should mention the discovery (1917) of gold coins collected around the mid-VI century A.D. in the waters in front of Punta Scifo. Just a little south of Capo Colonna, the seabed is home to two wrecks dating back to the Late Antiquity / Early Middle Ages. These are the wreck of Punta Scifo E from VI-VII century A.D. with a load consisting mainly of amphorae of Albenga 11-12 type (Keay LXIIQ), and the wreck of Eurocamping that was transporting spatheia.

Crotone, a section of the Byzantine walls from the VI century A.D. Note the re-use of the blocks made by the Greeks.


Corrado M. 2001, Nuovi dati sul limes marittimo bizantino del Bruttium, in Archeologia Medievale 28, pp. 533-569.

De Leo P. 1992, Dalla tarda antichità all’età moderna, in Crotone, pp. 111-198.

Medaglia S. 2010, Carta archeologica della provincia di Crotone: paesaggi storici e insediamenti nella Calabria centro-orientale dalla Preistoria all’Altomedioevo, RICERCHE. Collana del Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti. IV. Università della Calabria, Cosenza.

Moscato G. B. 1983, Cronaca dei Musulmani in Calabria, Cosenza.

Von Falkenhausen V. 1989, Réseaux routiers et ports dans l’Italie méeridionale byzantine (VIe-XIe s.), in H KAΘHMEPINH ZΩHΣTO BΥZANTIO, Atti del Simposio, Atene (15-17 September 1988), pp. 711-731.

Zanini E. 1998, Le Italie bizantine. Territorio, insediamenti ed economia nella provincia bizantina d’Italia (VI-VIII secolo), Bari.

Zinzi E. 1999, Calabria. Insediamento e trasformazioni territoriali dal V al XV secolo, in Storia della Calabria medievale, pp. 11-87.

The importance of Crotone as a port is documented in various records of the medieval age.

It is once again the Arab cartograph al-Idrīsī(XII century A.D.) who in the Tabula Rogeriana described the city with the following words: “…Cape of the columns” (’.flûmîah or ’.qlûmah) “[where there are remains] of ancient buildings” and “Cotrone” (q.ṭrûnî or q.ṭrûnah) “a very ancient port and city, of ancient construction, in a pleasant position, prosperous and populated”, i.e. “a very old city, [indeed] archaic and beautiful”. “…It has walls that defend her and a vast port where anchors are dropped in safety”.

Another important Medieval portolan chart, the Compasso da Navegare (1296), informs us that “Cotrone è bo(m) porto p(er) tucti ve(n)ti, ma non è bono p(er) greco.” (a safe harbour for all winds, but not for Greco).

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, ordered the construction of two harbours in Calabria during the first half of the XIII century, one in Bivona (Vibo Valentia) on the Tyrrhenian Sea and the other one in Cotrona. The administration of these Imperial ports was entrusted to port officials known as magistri portulani who basically coordinated the customs activities, assisted by custodians and notaries who registered all commercial operations. In fact, the Imperial register of 1239 A.D. mentions “In Cotrona novus portus / Custos Nicolaus Barbatus de Cotrona / Notarius Bencivinius de Cotrona”.

Certainly, the port of Crotone was used for the shipment of grain and lumber harvested in the forests of Sila. In the Angevin records, in fact, various documents mention this kind of goods. Among these sources, one describes the departure of vessels that supplied with food the Christian army during the siege of Tunis in 1270.

In the XV century, under the Aragonese domination, the port of Crotone was the most prosperous of Calabria. There are reports of the presence of ships and merchants of countless nationalities.

Some documents are interesting because they indicate quarrying activities at the archaeological sites close to the city. In 1485, for example, a certain Victorio Bagloni was paid for having transported with is boat 300 cartloads of stone “dali colonnj et discaricata allo molo dela p.ta cita”. It is likely that the toponym “colonnj” can be interpreted as Capo Colonna.

In 1545, during the reconstruction of the castle by Emperor Charles V, some stones were found at the marina of San Marco after a sea storm. These are perhaps attributable to an ancient landing place or to a navis lapidaria. For this purpose, a specially built vessel is sent to recover the stones: “Ad cavar fora la petra delo lettu del mare discoperta dela fortuna”.

Despite the importance of Crotone as a port during the post-classical age, there are not many medieval-modern artefacts in the area.

The shipwreck Capo Alfieri B, dating back to the XII-XIII century A.D., was found by the diver Gino Cantafora in the same area as the Aflieri A. It carried a load of plates and bowls with decorations painted in red and brown.

In Capo Donato there is a wreck (Capo Donato B) that carried stone projectiles, perhaps attributable to petraries. Its dating may be estimated between the XV and XVI century A.D. A section of the quickworks remained on site.

The discovery of a bronze culverin dating back to the early XVI century in Capo Rizzuto is very interesting, although isolated.

A few years ago, a fragmented hull with bronze nails and an external coating in lead was found close to Le Castella. The dating was generically determined to the XVII-XVII century A.D.

Close to Capo Bianco, on a muddy seabed, there are 9 cast-iron cannons scattered in an area of around 50 sq.m at a depth of 9 meters. The length of these heavy weapons ranges from 2.80 to 2.40 meters. The type of these cannons may be referred to a XVII-XVIII century wreck. Such an attribution can be further established after more in-depth investigations.

The wreck of Capo Bianco A, slightly beyond the chronological range here discussed but certainly of great interest, was initially attributed to a stone-carrying ship from the Roman era due to the presence of Carrara marble, French red marble and Portargento black marble. Its sinking was recently dated back between the second half of the XVIII century and the first half of the XIX century.

                                                            Surveys of the ‘wreck of the cannons’ in Capo Bianco


Amari M., Schiaparelli C. 1883, L’Italia descritta nel “Libro di Re Ruggero” compilato da Edrisi. Testo arabo con versione e note, Atti della Reale Accademia dei Lincei, Anno CCLXXIV (1876-77), serie seconda — volume VIII, Roma.

Filangieri R. (eds) 1954, I registri della Cancelleria Angioina ricostruiti da Riccardo Filangieri con la collaborazione degli Archivisti napoletani, VI (1270-1271), Napoli

Huillard Bréholles J.L.A. (eds) 1862, Historia diplomatica Friderici secundi, V, Paris

Lefevre R. 1971, La crociata del 1270 a Tunisi, nella documentazione dell’Archivio di Stato di Napoli, in Africa: rivista trimestrale di studi e documentazione dell’Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente, anno 26, n. 3 (September 1971), pp. 359-370.

Medaglia S. 2008, Per un censimento dei relitti antichi lungo la costa crotonese. Nota preliminare, in Ricerche archeologiche e storiche in Calabria: modelli e prospettive, “Atti del convegno di studi in onore di Giovanni Azzimmaturo (Cosenza 2007)”, Cosenza, pp. 93-120.

Medaglia S. 2010, Carta archeologica della provincia di Crotone: paesaggi storici e insediamenti nella Calabria centro-orientale dalla Preistoria all’Altomedioevo, RICERCHE. Collana del Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti. IV. Università della Calabria, Cosenza.

Motzo B.R. 1947, Il compasso da navegare: opera italiana della metà del secolo XIII, Cagliari.

Pesavento A. 2012, Il porto di Crotone dal Medioevo al Settecento, in ,(link accessed in April 2019).

Sposato P. 1952, Aspetti di vita economica e commerciale calabrese sotto gli aragonesi, in Calabria Nobilissima, VI, 17, pp. 201-282.

Crotone and its coast on nautical maps

Considering the importance of the port of Crotone also in the post-classical age, it is normal that its location was reported on the vast majority of medieval and modern nautical maps.

The toponym is always written in red in order to denote the importance of the port, in contrast to smaller harbours written in black.

Also the size of characters is larger in the Carta Pisana of 1275 (1), in a Genoan portolan chart dated 1320-1350 (2) and in Atlases such as Luxoro (3) and Cresques (4).

Around one century later, in the nautical Atlas by Diego Homem (6), there is a large island in front of Capo Colonna from where a series of points – parallel to the coast and heading south – run up to Squillace, passing in front of Le Castella.

These are undoubtedly signs of the semi-submerged rocks that characterise this stretch of sea.

However, the most interesting details appear undoubtedly in the Book of Navigation written by the Turk geographer Piri Reis (7) (1525-1526). Between the walled city of Crotone and the church of Santa Maria del Mare, built on an isolated rock formation in front of the port, there is an evident presence of a series of cliffs/piers intended for smaller boats. The larger ships, as specified in the text, appear in another zone, defined as “built” (8).

The drawings, in fact, show a large round ship moored with a double anchor in the South harbour, in front of a constructed pier facing South-East. An analogue pier with a North-West orientation is present in the harbour, on the opposite side.

On the map by Piri Reis, right south of Crotone and all the way to La Tonnara, there are some little crosses parallel to the coastline that indicate a dangerous area due to semi-submerged rocks. The presence of bay with a fresh water spring is clearly attested beyond La Tonnara. Finally, more dangerous reefs are reported at Capo Bianco, while in front of Le Castella there are two islands.

A detail of Calabria from the Atlas by Grazioso Benincasa, 1465 (Source / Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, CPL GE DD-1988 RES).
Map of Crotone and its coasts, from The Book of Navigation by Piri Reis (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore)

1 It is the most ancient chart that survived to our days. (Bibliothèque nationale de France , département des Cartes et Plans, CPL GE B-1118 RES).

2 Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. G5672.M4P5 13– .P6 (

3 GEN01 GEN01 MANUS BER Biblioteca Berio BCFAN Conservazione Fondo XVII-XVIII secolo m.r.Cf.Arm.2 811 1035180-10 20090416 92 Escluso prestito 19911225 . Membranaceous manuscript, XIV century A.D.

4 Dated to 1375. It is one of the most important portolan charts and medieval maps ever (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Département des manuscrits. Espagnol 30).

5 Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, CPL GE DD-1988 (RES).

6 Datable to 1559 (Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, CPL GE DD-2003 RES)

7 The book about navigation by Piri Reis is kept at the Library of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (MS Süleymaniye-Aya Sofya 2612). The copy used by us comes from Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, available online (

8 For the translation of some passages, see also MARINO et al. 2010, pp. 7-9. For the version of Piri Reis’ map from Bologna (Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna, MS Marsili 3609) see VENTURA 1990, pp. 2-10, figs.4-5.

MARINO et al. = Marino D., Bartoli D., Corrado M., Liperoti D., Murphy D.., 2010, Prospezioni Archeologiche Subacquee a Crotone. Prima Campagna 2009 tra le Località Porto Vecchio e Tonnara, in The Journal of Fasti Online 192, pp. 1-22

Ventura A. 1990, Il Regno di Napoli di Piri Re’is. La Cartografia Turca alla Corte di Solimano il Magnifico, Fabriano

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Ingot in lead, oblong, “baguette”-shaped. Short rounded sides. Biological degradation The artefact does not show signs of biological degradation. References MEDAGLIA, c.d.s.


Amphora neck, broken at the height of the shoulders. Biological degradation The fragment of the amphora presents – on the external and internal surfaces (especially inside the neck) – a mixed colonisation with a predominant presence of sedentary Polychaeta, encrusting red algae thalli and Bryozoans. There…


Spheroidal stone projectile. Belonging to a petrary or a small bombard. These projectiles were mostly used with heavy breechloaders in wrought iron. Biological degradation No traces of biological colonisations are visible. References


Bronze lump of a rectangular, rounded shape and a plane-convex section. Ongoing investigations, focused mainly on the unit of weight measurement, may lead to its dating to the Bronze Age. Close to the site, a stone anchor of a truncated-pyramidal shape was found: perhaps it…


Wine amphora made in the Eastern Mediterranean. Biological degradation The amphora presents an epilithic colonisation almost on the whole surface. Particularly relevant are thalli of encrusting red algae (visible as a hard, whitish patina). Moreover, there are present also colonies of Bryozoa and encrusting tubes made…


An intact amphora of Corinthian B type, Greek-Siceliote production. Rim with an echinoid band. Tall neck from which the handles ramify just below the rim. Globular body, tending towards biconical. Bottom with a short, truncated foot. The Corinthian amphorae were introduced into a large part…


Amphora Dressel 6A with stamps CA^DMI e RUBRI. Intact. Wine amphora characterised by a long cylindrical neck, a slightly carinated shoulder and two vertical, oval-section handles. Ovoid body ending with a foot. Collared rim. Its underwater origin is not verifiable. The amphora is to be…

Discover the Museum of Capo Colonna in 3D


Marble sculpture group of Cupid (Eros, Amore) and Psyche. With all probability, it may be attributed to the shipwreck of Punta Scifo A. It was found at sea in 1926 by local fishermen, close to Punta Scifo’s beach. Cupid has no head nor forearm; Psyche…


Black-painted Lekane plate. Recessed rim, indistinct from the wall. Ear-shaped horizontal handles with a cylindrical section. Part of the bottom missing. Biological degradation The artefact does not present traces of biological degradation. References MEDAGLIA 2008, pp. 116-117; MEDAGLIA 2010, p. 338 ss., n. 421. Medaglia S.,…


Fragmentary amphora, type Keay XXV. The neck is preserved, complete with handles and everted rim. This amphora type may be collocated between the type called “Africana Grande” and the later cylindrical type, always large. This type was popular between the beginning of the IV and…


Fragmentary amphora, type Keay LII. Neck with the rim and one handle are preserved. Portion of the shoulder. Triangular-section, everted rim. Tapered neck that extends from shoulders that should have been attached to a globular or pear-shaped body. Pronounced handles with enlarged ribbons that were…


Wine amphora made in the Eastern Mediterranean. The handles form an acute angle at the upper connection to the cylindrical neck - a distinctive feature of this type. Biological degradation The amphora shows, especially in the upper part, a dense and thick whitish encrustation caused…


Ara. A not finished piece. It features a square-section body with protruding top and bottom, profiled in two well-defined and different sections (straight and circular arc). Given its shape, its function could have been that of a cippus or a statue’s pedestal. Biological degradation The…


Ionic capital. A part of the pulvino [impost block] and its volutes are missing; the edges of the abacus and other two volutes are chipped and the surface of one of the echinus’ sides is abraded. The echinus is carved in a quite superficial manner,…


Labrum base with lion paws at the corners. A protruding disc tops the marble base, under which a truncated cone rests on a square pedestal made of two superposed steps that create a profile between them. Four lion paws emerge at the corners of the…


Marble labrum. A part of the rim is missing. Flat bottom, slightly lowered everted rim. Biological degradation The artefact does not present evident traces of biological degradation, with exception for a small portion on the back caused by an initial development of boring sponges. References Orsi…


Bronze strigil. A tool used to cleanse oneself from sweat or to remove the excess of balms or ointments from the skin. It consists of a straight handle and a curved and concave blade that facilitates the expulsion of dirt. Biological degradation The artefact does…


Candelabrum, lamp-holder with a movable base decorated with three dolphins (two left) arranged obliquely. Tall stem with an upper part characterised by one disc-shaped and one globular beads. Biological degradation The artefact does not present visible biological degradation. References Medaglia S., 2008, Per un censimento dei…


Amphora of the Kapitän II type. Preserved parts: neck with horizontal rope-like decorations, rim and handles (with ribbons and grooves, one handle is fragmentary). Two specimens of this type were attributed to the galley of the wreck of Punta Scifo A. These stand as another…


Block of greenish-coloured glass. It is an element intended to be melt again and perhaps it was part of the ballast. Similar artefacts, always from the Roman times, were also found on the wreck “del Vetro”, investigated in the sea in front of Venice.  …


Block of black-coloured glass. Biological degradation The artefact does not present traces of biological degradation. References Medaglia S., 2008, Per un censimento dei relitti antichi lungo la costa crotonese. Nota preliminare, in Ricerche archeologiche e storiche in Calabria: modelli e prospettive, “Atti del convegno di studi…


Coticule (a stone tablet used for sharpening blades or for toiletry). Rectangular shape with oblique/flared edges. Found together with at least 5 other specimens. Initially interpreted as samples for trade (1). Biological degradation The artefact does not present traces of biological degradation. References MEDAGLIA 2008 pp.…


Fragment of the rim of a mortar with a stamp [C(ai)] Bellici / Zmaragdi, (type CIL XV, 1, 2418), found during the excavation works of 1983 on the wreck of Punta Scifo A. It was undoubtedly part of on-board provisions.  This type of a mortar,…


Leaden group representing Heracles fighting against the Ceryneian Hind. Hellenistic style. Placed on a curved plate fixed by long iron pins to a probable wooden support. Worn surfaces. Probably it was part of the on-board lararium. Biological degradation The artefact does not present visible biological…


Simpulum (ladle, dipper). It is one of the two simpula with long handles made of copper alloy attributable to the wreck of Punta Scifo C. Biological degradation The artefact does not present signs of biological colonisation. References Medaglia S. 2010, Carta archeologica della provincia di Crotone:…


Pieces of African kitchenware, concreted together.  There are both productions with light grey patina with a blackened rim and productions with stripes and bands. The types found on the wreck are comparable to plates-lids Hayes 196, lids Hayes 195 (Atlante I, CV, nn. 3-4), casseroles…


Microasiatic sarcophagus found in two large separated fragments.  On the sides of the preserved frontal part, there is a relief of a scene of Dionysius flirting with a dancing Maenad. On the short sides there are carvings of a Satyr’s mask, a swag and a…


Spatheion amphora (a small amphora for maritime transport of valuable liquids) of Keay XXVI type, made in North Africa. Cylindrical, narrow and elongated body, pointed foot with rounded, everted and lowered rim.  Cylindrical neck, with two narrow handles on the sides, with a slight central…


Anfora spatheion (piccola anfora per il trasporto marino di liquidi pregiati) tipo Keay XXVI di produzione nord-africana. Corpo cilindrico stretto ed allungato, mancante del puntale, bordo arrotondato estroflesso e ribassato. Collo cilindrico con lieve restringimento centrale. Mancante di un’ansa. Degrado biologico L’anfora presenta una diffusa…


Terracotta pipe bowl. Biological degradation The artefact presents a superficial (epilithic) colonisation with a white layer of calcareous nature. Such degradation is attributable to the thalli of encrusting red algae (Rhodophyceae). Inside the pipe bowl there are little calcareous tubes made by sedentary sea worms…


A plate with an everted rim and a residual inner decoration in red and manganese brown. Raised ring foot. Purified clay paste. The preservation state does not allow for determining the type of whitish coating. Biological degradation The artefact does not present traces of biological…


Fragmentary bowl with a thickened rim and a raised ring foot, with a residual decoration in red and manganese brown on the bottom. A trellis in manganese brown is visible. The preservation state does not allow for determining the type of whitish coating. Biological degradation …


Anchor stock in stone with tapered and rounded arms. Central both.   Biological degradation References MEDAGLIA 2010, p. 269-270 with references. 1 For a review of the most known anchor stocks, see GIANFROTTA 1975; Id. 1977 and ID. 1982. On some stone anchor stocks found in Metapontum…


Anchor stock in stone, one arm missing. A typical separation groove between the two arms is visible. According to Strabo, the main port of Croton was located by the river Esaro that probably hosted a canal harbour. Up to now, this artefact is the only…


Archaic bronze helmet, Corinthian type with fixed paragnathides and a nasal protection. It probably belonged to an armed man on board of a ship. Biological degradation The helmet does not present traces of biological degradation. References MEDAGLIA 2010, p. 295, n. 293, nota 1337, con bibliografia; CORRADO…


Arm of a stone anchor stock with a dedication to Phayllos in Achaean alphabet: «of Zeus Meilichius. Erected by Phayllos». It is easy to recognise the name of the famous Phayllos who participated in the battle of Salamis with a trireme and won the Pythian…


A fragmentary amphora (only the rim, the neck, and handles on shoulder have been found) of African production (from Byzacena or Zeugitana), belonging to the Keay 62 D type. It is characterised by an expanded band rim with a quadrangular or triangular profile, more or…


Weighting bar with a parallelepiped profile, belonging to an anchor stock. It belongs to a class of wooden anchors with a weighting made of lead. In this type, the lead was cast in two wooden cases that were part of an anchor made of the…