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Introduction

Croton was among the earliest Greek colonies in Italy, founded, like Metapontum, by Achaeans from the northern Peloponnese in the late 8th century BC. The colony prospered in the 7th and 6th centuries: the chora was densely settled, and the city, endowed with an excellent natural harbor, developed an international stature in medicine, athletics, and philosophy. The extramural Sanctuary and Temple of Hera at Capo Colonna was a landmark for all sailors and an object of pilgrimage.

After a brief apogee in the late 6th/early 5th century, marked by the political influence of Pythagoras and his followers and the conquest of her main rival Sybaris (a neighboring Achaean colony), Croton suffered a slow and steady decline as both Taras and Syracuse extended their power towards the "toe" of Italy. The city was eventually besieged and sacked at the hands of the Syracusan tyrant Dionysios I in 379 BC. Croton quickly regained her liberty and revived, but the Roman advance in the 3rd century, which saw the incorporation of Croton - and all of the other Greek colonies - into the Roman orbit, ushered in a longer period of neglect, decline, and depopulation that lasted until the end of the 1st century AD. In the Imperial period the chora of Croton was occupied by a modest number of isolated farmsteads, and the sanctuary at Capo Colonna continued to function
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The advent of the Middle Ages brought a tendency for nucleated settlement in hamlets equipped with churches, as well as the abandonment of pagan monuments like the Temple of Hera. The site of Croton itself and its feudalized territory (appropriately renamed "Il Marchesato") held a strategic value in the struggle for dominance of the Mediterranean between the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires that characterized the Renaissance. Because of its harbor the city remained continuously inhabited and was gradually transformed by new construction (including a magnificent Spanish castle built with the stone blocks of the temple at Capo Colonna), which has completely obscured the ancient city, while the coast was fortified with a series of watch-towers designed to thwart seaborne attacks.

Crotone today is a small industrial city with an important port and methane refinery. The intensive agriculture of the modern Marchesato is oriented mostly towards local or regional consumption. The history of the Marchesato strongly resembles the history of the Metapontino, so that the archaeological record of the chora of Croton from prehistory through recent times is unusually well-preserved because of its near-total abandonment for two millennia, although that record is actively threatened by mechanized agriculture and rural development.

The chora of Croton, unlike that of Metapontum, had never been systematically explored prior to the inauguration of the ICA project in 1983, with the permission and encouragement of the Soprintendenza Archeologica della Calabria and the Ministero dei Beni Culturali . The extensive territory of this major Greek city, larger and more varied in its topography than that of Metapontum, offered an ideal comparison for the results of survey and excavation at Metapontum. If the densely populated chora of Metaponto were not an isolated phenomenon, something similar might be expected at Croton--as indeed proved to be the case.