Image: Ancient building
Massimo Osanna 
Decorative features of the temple-like structure are remarkably similar to ornamental features on another structure unearthed at a town nearby.
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updated 4/27/2010 1:52:26 PM ET 2010-04-27T17:52:26

Italian archeologists have unearthed the remains of a 6th century BC Greek temple-like building that came with detailed assembly instructions just like an “IKEA do-it-yourself furniture pack."

The elaborate structure was discovered at Torre Satriano, near the southern city of Potenza, in Basilicata, a region where local people mingled with Greeks who settled along the southern coast and in Sicily from the 8th century B.C. onwards.

Much like the instruction booklets of the Swedish home furnishings company, various sections of the luxury building were inscribed with coded symbols showing how the pieces slotted together.

“So far we have uncovered a hundred inscribed fragments, all related to the roof assembly system. The inscriptions also reveal that the palace was built by Greek artisans coming from the Spartan colony of Taranto in Puglia,” Massimo Osanna, director of the archaeology school at Basilicata University, told Discovery News.

Boasting an impressive colonnade at the entryway, the palace was richly decorated with terracotta friezes and featured at least two freestanding statues on the roof representing mythical creatures.

The sloping terracotta roof had red and black decorations and was designed to filter rainwater down the cymatums. These were panels with protruding drips to throw water off the structure.

Building instructions were present on both the cymatiums and the friezes.

“We found masculine ordinal numbers on the cymatiums and feminine ones on the friezes,” Osanna said.

According to the archaeologist, the decorative features of the temple-like structure are remarkably similar to ornamental features on another structure unearthed at a town nearby. This would suggest that the builders used the same mold.

“A taste for Greek styles among the local pre-Roman population might have prompted an industrious builder to produce DIY structures on the model of classical Greek buildings,” Osanna said.

© 2012 Discovery Channel

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