Caulonia was an ancient city of Magna Graecia on the shore of the Ionian Sea. In ancient times the shoreline of Caulonia lay 300 meter further seawards. There is no literary evidence for the foundation date of Caulonia, but archeological evidence shows that it was founded early in the second half of the seventh century BCE. Both Strabo and Pausanias mention that the city was founded by Achaean Greek colonists.

In 389 BC the city was conquered by Dionysius I of Syracuse, who transplanted its citizens to Syracuse and gave them citizenship and an exemption from taxes for five years. He then levelled the city to the ground and gave its territory to his ally Locri. Apparently it was refounded by Dionysius II of Syracuse several decades later. Dionysius II probably gave control over the city to Locri. Archaeological evidence confirms that the city was deserted for some time in the fourth century BC. Later in the same century, it was permanently inhabited again.

This was not the end of misfortune for the city however, for it was razed two more times. It was destroyed during the Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC) and taken by the Campanians, who formed the largest contingent of allies in the army of Rome. In 200 BC the town was completely destroyed by the Romans, when it sided with Hannibal during the Punic Wars. It was probably around this time that the ancient site of Caulonia, directly on the Ionian coast, was abandoned in favor of a more protected site inland.

In 2012 the archaeologist Francesco Cuteri and his team discovered a mosaic floor of 25 square meters. Dating to late 4th century BC, it is one of the largest mosaics from the Hellenistic period found in Southern Italy. It was discovered in what is thought to have been a thermal bathhouse. The mosaic is divided into nine polychrome squares and another space with a polychrome rosette at the entrance of the room. It depicts a dragon in its center, comparable to the mosaic discovered in 1969.



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Founded: 7th century BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

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