The discovery of the remains of the Ionic temple below Palazzo Vermexio, near the Cathedral of Ortygia, was particularly significant. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is the only known building in the West inspired by an Eastern Greek model.
The investigations carried out on the remains of the temple (the foundation stones and a few significant elements of the elevation) have made it possible to date its construction to a period between the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 5th century BC.
This elegant sanctuary is identified with the Arthemision, mentioned by Cicero as one of the most remarkable sanctuaries in Ortygia, dedicated to the goddess Artemis.
The large temple had six columns on the main façade and sixteen on the long sides, as depicted in a sculptural reconstruction exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse.
The columns, of which some parts remain, were more than fifteen metres high and had a very particular and rare Samian-type base: a base formed of the spira (the set of mouldings that make up the lower part of a column base) and the torus (moulding with a convex semicircular profile that forms a large ring, if used at the base of the column; or a section of relief inside the cornice decorations) which are both fluted.
This characteristic led to the suggestion that Syracuse had a specialised workshop perhaps belonging to some Samian masters and craftspeople, who, having fled their homeland due to Persian occupation, found hospitality in the landed aristocracy of Syracuse.
Because of this, they were commissioned to build the monumental building.