The largest industrial quarter for the production of ceramics of the ancient world has been discovered at the archeological site of Selinunte in south-west Sicily.
Stretching for 1,250 square meters, it featured 80 kilns for the production of ceramics, with the largest one measuring 5 meters in diameter, making it the biggest kiln ever found in a Greek city, according to Martin Bentz, an archeologist at the University of Bonn, which is conducting the excavations along with the Università di Roma.
The industrial quarter was located inside the city walls, but was separated from the city by an empty area to shield its inhabitants from fire danger, smell and noise. It featured a central courtyard where products were dried, two large working and firing areas and a shop to sell the products.
The quarter and the workshop were founded around 550 B.C. Initially, the production focused on small artistic terracotta statuettes, but it would later expand into mass production of roof tiles and vases of every kind.
The workshop was destroyed when the Carthaginians conquered Selinunte in 409 B.C. This marked the beginning of the decline of the Greek colony, the farthest west of all, which for centuries had enjoyed great prosperity.
The excavation work began four years ago and it is expected to continue until 2016.