Syracuse: archeology

Syracuse, Greek Theatre - Photo © MarianOne
Syracuse, Greek Theatre – Photo © MarianOne

This will be a journey through time and space, following the traces of man’s presence and activities in the basic periods of the ancient history of the Mediterranean. And the man who opened the scientific door to the discovery of the antiquity of this area of Sicily came from Trentino. Paolo Orsi arrived in Syracuse in 1886 and began the series of excavations in zones such as Stentinello, Thapsos, Castelluccio, Finocchito and Pantalica.

The pioneer of underwater archaeology along the Syracusan coast was Nino Lambogia from Liguria, who discovered the marble harbor of Syracuse. The “Orsi” Archaeological Museum of Syracuse contains 18,000 exhibits, arranged in strict chronological order, and including many pieces resulting from the research of these two archaeologists, and it is from these rooms that the itinerary must begin.


One of the masterpieces on show is the Venere Anadiomene, a second-century Roman copy of a statue of the Praxitelean school, praised by Guy de Maupassant. Not to be overlooked is the Sarcophagus of Adelphia, exhibited for the Giubileum; its base-reliefs, dating back to the VI century AD may be considered as the first nativity-scene of history. After the archaeological park of the Neapolis, with its Greek theatre, and the Greek necropolis of the Fusco, the archaeological journey continues towards the south.

Eight kilometers  from Noto there are the defensive walls and the rectangular theatre. A kilometer away there is the Greek funeral monument, the Pizzuta column, and not far from there, the mosaics of the Roman Villa del Tellaro. The journey into the Iblean culture of the Siculi begins ten kilometers  from Noto, with the traces of Finocchito, destroyed by the Syracusans in the V century. Further inland, there is the village of Castelluccio, from which the early Bronze age takes its name, where pottery with dark decorations on a yellowish background have been found.

At Palazzolo there is the archaeological park of Akrai, with its theatre, market-place and two stone-quarries. There is also the interesting series of the twelve Santoni, figures hewn out of the rock and dedicated to the Goddess Cybele. Near Akrai, there is the ancient Casmene. A few kilometers  from Ferla, there is Pantalica, a natural fortress surrounded by an enormous necropolis in the midst of beautiful, wild countryside.

Further north, there is the city of Leontinoi, with its tenaille system of fortification. Megara Hyblaea, destroyed by the Syracusans and rebuilt by the Greeks to be destroyed once again by the Romans, looks out over the sea, while to the south there is perhaps what might be considered the most important discovery made by Orsi, the ancient village of Thapsos, dating back to between 1400 and 800 BC.

Where to stay in Syracuse

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