The archaeologists are likening the possibly 6th-century temple discovery in Torre Satriano, Italy, to Ikea furniture, the inexpensive home furnishings the purchaser assembles at home, the British Daily Telegraph and the Times of London reported Thursday.
The head of archaeology at Basilica University, Professor Massimo Osanna, said that the team working at what was once Magna Graecia had found a sloping roof with red and black decorations, with "masculine" and "feminine" pieces inscribed with instructions on how to slot them together.
The director of the British School at Rome, Professor Christopher Smith, told The Times the discovery was "the clearest example yet found of mason's marks of the time. It looks as if someone was instructing others how to mass-produce components and put them together in this way."
Osanna said that a taste for the Grecian style among the indigenous population must have caused an industrious builder to create inexpensive do-it-yourself components similar to classical Greek architecture.
The roof was designed to filter rainwater down the decorative panels, known as cymatiums, with projections to protect the lower wall.
"So far around a hundred inscribed fragments have been recovered, with masculine ordinal numbers on the cymatiums and feminine ones on the friezes," Osanna said, adding that the result was "a kind of instruction booklet."