The Tomb of the Diver in Paestum was found on June 3, 1968, in what used to be known as Magna Graecia, and today is part of the province of Salerno.
The terrific discovery was the reward of archaeologist Mario Napoli’s hard work, which led him to the five travertine slabs closed up into a sepulcher. Although a huge number of finds had already turned up in this area of Campania, this one was special: the inner side of the stone slabs was daubed and painted.
Archaeologists from the whole world were fired up. Painting is the least known form of Green art because – although some works were described and celebrated by writers and poets – almost all of the materials on which artists created their works have completely deteriorated over time.
Thus, that spring day, Napoli was astounded to find this incredibly rare gem from Magna Graecia’s Classical Age, a work of art influenced by Etruscan culture, dating between 480 and 470 BC.
On the sides, it features scenes from a symposium attended by ephebes, athletes, and people with garlands, lying down on triclinia. On the top slab, of course, there is the young diver that, in Napoli’s words, “extends towards the infinity of the horizon […], towards otherworldly life, and the hereafter”.