Early settlement in Agrigento

Temple of Concord, Agrigento

Not recent news, and I had lift­ing whole stor­ies for quotes, but I need a record of the news story and it looks like it’s dis­ap­pear­ing from ANSA.

Agrigento, January 17 — Archaeologists work­ing in Sicily’s Valley of the Temples have found traces of a set­tle­ment thought to pre-date the fam­ous Greek temples built there in around 600 BC .

The val­ley near Agrigento on Sicily’s south­ern coast is one of Europe’s most import­ant arche­olo­gical sites. It marks a sac­red area built when Greeks landed there to start the civil­isa­tion of Magna Grecia in south­ern Italy .

The dis­cov­ery of a struc­ture pos­sibly built before the Greeks arrived came dur­ing pre­par­at­ory work ahead of a pro­ject to shore up the ground near the Temple of Hera. Archaeologists uncovered a mys­ter­i­ous walled struc­ture on top of which ancient Greeks had appar­ently built a shrine and a burial ground .

Until now it has been thought that Agrigento was settled by the Greeks soon after they began start­ing colon­ies in much of the Mediterranean in the 7th cen­tury BC .

It has not yet been pos­sible to estab­lish pre­cisely when these remains date back to,” cau­tioned Pietro Meli, head of the agency which admin­is­trates the Valley of the Temples archae­olo­gical park .

Meli said fix­ing a date would be pos­sible if and when archae­olo­gists found pieces of clay ves­sels or ceram­ics, which would provide clear evidence .

He noted that the set­tle­ment appeared to have been built along the line of the ancient road to Gela, a town about 70 km south­east of Agrigento .

Several finds dat­ing back to ancient Greek and early Christian times were also made recently. Experts found what appeared to be a Christian burial ground and an earlier Greek temple, dig­ging up small statues, incense hold­ers and lanterns .

There are eight temples, most of them well-preserved, in the Valley of the Temples. In the 5th cen­tury BC, at the height of Agrigento’s power and wealth, there are said to have been 21 temples there .

I’m sure there’s still a lot wait­ing to be dis­covered,” Meli said .

The present site, which draws thou­sands of tour­ists a year, was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.

From http://ansa.it/main/notizie/awnplus/english/news/2006–01-17_2386177.html

Thanks to Archaeology in Europe for mak­ing a note of this. I’d mis­laid my copy of the link.


When he's not tired, fixing his car or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.

3 Responses

  1. Edie says:

    Why is the record of this “dis­ap­pear­ing from ANSA”? Sometimes I have fits try­ing to find a link or art­icle I might have read only a few hours before. Do you sup­pose in this case it is just (server) space-saving on the part of this organ­iz­a­tion? It seems odd.

  2. alun says:

    It could be space sav­ing or it could be licen­cing. Some mater­ial, par­tic­u­larly AP, is only licenced for 30 days. I had to pull this from Google’s cache.

    In the case of the BBC they tend not to delete stor­ies, but over-write them as updates come in, which from a historian’s per­spect­ive is a tad annoy­ing. It’s a time when there’s more text than ever and poten­tially a Dark Age.

  3. Edie says:

    More text than ever. Speaking of which, I “tagged” you to answer some ques­tions, if you want to of course. You have a very astute per­spect­ive, and I’m sure you would give some intel­li­gent answers.