From The Daily Telegraph, April 22 2010
Archaeologists in Italy have unearthed the remains of a 6th century BC temple-style building complete with detailed assembly instructions which they have likened to an Ikea do-it-yourself furniture pack.
Nick Squires in Rome
Published: 7:00AM BST 22 Apr 2010
Archaeologists in Italy have unearthed the remains of a 6th century BC temple-style building complete with detailed assembly instructions which they have likened to an Ikea do-it-yourself furniture pack. Nearly every remaining part of the elaborate structure, excavated near the southern city of Potenza, is inscribed with detailed instructions on how it should be built.
The team believe the building, at Torre Satriano, may have been a temple or palace.
It has been found in a region of southern Italy in which colonists and traders from Ancient Greece settled from the 8th century BC onwards. They established a number of independent city-states along the coast and in Sicily that together were known as Magna Graecia.
The archaeologists have speculated that the indigenous, pre-Roman nobility may have developed a taste for Greek fashion and that enterprising local builders came up with the idea of relatively cheap, DIY buildings to satisfy local demand. Each stone component bears identification symbols showing how they fit together, just like a bed or book case produced by the Swedish low-cost furniture manufacturer.
The symbols would have indicated to builders how "male" components fitted into "female" joints.
The coded symbols also appear on red and black decorative panels known as "cymatiums".
"All the cymatiums and several sections of frieze also have inscriptions relating to the roof assembly system," Massimo Osanna, the director of the archaeology department at Basilicata University, said.
"So far, around a hundred inscribed fragments have been recovered, with masculine ordinal numbers on the cymatiums and feminine ones on the friezes".
"The characteristics of these inscriptions indicate they date back to around the 6th century BC, which tallies with the architectural evidence suggested by the decoration."
The discovery is documented in the latest edition of Italy's National Geographic magazine.