Temple with Doric columns
The temple, which was the main place of Punic worship, is located in the center of the city and was excavated by G. Pesce in 1958-59. The temple structure appeared largely dismantled, possibly recycled, and filled in with debris. A lime mortar pavement was laid down over the temple during the first centuries of the Roman Empire.
The main feature of the temple, known as “monumental” for its grandeur, is a ramp of terraced steps, carved from a massive block of sandstone. The emerging rock surfacewas, in fact, cut to highlight the monumental structure, which is at the center of a lowered area, and surrounded by a wall (temenos) built with large square blocks.
Pesce assumed three stages of life for the temple. In the first archaic period, the sacred area consisted of an irregular shaped rock with many holes, used primarily for offerings and rituals.
In the second phase, occurring between the 4th and the 3rd century BC, the original sandstone rock would have been built upon, with the highest part decorated on three sides by Doric columns and pilasters in relief. The columns and pilasters were carved out of sandstone block from the floor up, and were probably originally capped by Doric semi-capitals and Aeolian-Cypriot capitals. On top of the rock structure, Pesce suggested that there was a chapel housing a statue of God, or a simple altar.
In the third and final phase, the Punic temple was destroyed and filled in with lime and crushed stone, on the top of which the ground floor of a new sanctuary was constructed. This sanctuary was a Roman temple built on a square base made of blocks taken from the previous temple, which is still visible in the eastern part of this area. This phase also featured the construction of a large cistern located along the southern side of the Punic temple.