The Coast of SiracusaNovember 30, 2020
Archeology in the Province
The Mediterranean is not merely a sea. It’s been the catalyst for some of the most splendid civilisations that have marked the history of mankind; they were born here, they evolved here and they interacted on its shores.
At the centre of this continuous evolution, we find Sicily, the focal point where the traces of those civilisations can still be recognised in the cities, the lands and the lifestyle of its inhabitants, visible to the most attentive travellers.
Siracusa and its surroundings are a distillation of this evolution; almost 7.000 years of archaeological evidence are concentrated in a limited area where cultures are born and disappear, where we find necropolises, settlements and villages that are in turn transformed into proto-urban centres, the landscape where towns are founded and whose names are bound to the historical events of the Mediterranean and the men who influenced our thinking, like Gorgias, Plato and Archimedes.
None of these civilisations are isolated: in the triangle of south-eastern Sicily that lies within the larger triangle of Sicily, there is a continuous influx of influences from the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. The traces of the great civilisations of the Ancient World are all present and recognisable: Cyprus, Crete, the Aegean, Mycenae, continental Greece and its islands, Anatolia and Egypt have all contributed to the creation of a unique cultural stratification.
"the greatest and the most beautiful of the Greek cities”
A journey through the archaeology of the territory of Siracusa is primarily a journey through the history of human thought, beginning in prehistory with the earliest communities of farmers and breeders of the Neolithic period gathering in villages scattered along the coast, looking out over the sea that brought other peoples, other produce and other ideas, leading to the creation of the capital of Mycenaean commerce in Sicily, the village of Thapsos with its stone-built houses, courtyards, and narrow streets, fruit of cultural exchanges with the eastern Mediterranean.
This is the world in which, thanks to the fertile land and a particularly favourable climate, the culture of Pantalica develops and is consolidated, and where in the 8th century BCE a new element is introduced, represented by colonists coming from Greece. This time they were not just passing traders but came with the aim of founding their own cities, what we today call “colonies” but what the Greeks called apoikia, a distant place where one lives.
And so, between 734 and 733 BCE, Siracusa “the greatest and the most beautiful of the Greek cities”, according to Cicero, is founded.
Temple of Zeus, the "Two Columns"
Independent for more than five centuries, protected by one of the most imposing defensive systems of the Ancient World, the city was seat of the governor of the Roman Province of Sicily after the conquest of the city by Consol Marcellus in 212 BCE, and after the fall of the Roman Empire of the West, it was among the most important centres of the Byzantine Empire in the Mediterranean, even becoming capital for a brief period in the 6th century CE.
If you are looking for places that tell stories, this is the right place to begin your journey, a place that has no equal.
Archeozoologo e paleontologo, laureato in scienze e specializzato in beni culturali.
Studia il rapporto tra uomini e animali nelle società del passato come risorsa economica, alimentare, simbolo sociale e rituale. Avido lettore di storia e dei classici della letteratura greca e latina, ma anche di saggi di astrofisica e meccanica quantistica, vive perennemente in equilibrio tra il mondo dei numeri e quello delle lettere…e scrive per SiracusaCulture.