Allard Pierson Museum Sicily and the Sea

From 9 October 2015 to 17 April 2016, the Allard Pierson Museum will be hosting an exhibition entitled Sicily and the sea. A dive into the past. Sicily has been a popular berth for maritime heroes, pirates, ambitious Phoenicians, wine merchants, adventurers, migrants, pioneering Greeks and fishermen for many centuries. It was a place where different cultures and civilisations gathered, and where ideas were exchanged as easily as goods. But the sea gives and the sea takes away. The waters around this beautiful Mediterranean island are strewn with shipwrecks full of secret and extraordinary objects. It is quite literally an invitation to take a dive into history. Over the years, underwater archaeologists have steadily been revealing the sea’s secrets. Hundreds of shipwrecks have been identified and explored. Sicily and the sea is all about the treasures found in six of these wrecks. The special exhibition gives unique insight into the life, work and sometimes death of people including Ulysses, Justinian I and the Dutch Michiel de Ruyter, who was killed at the Battle of Augusta on 22 April 1676.

The unique objects and mysterious atmosphere of the rooms takes you on a voyage to the bottom of the seas around Sicily. The exhibition shines the spotlight on countless objects, including bronze helmets and weapons, as well as amphorae, statues and all kinds of utensils. Visitors are also treated to a glimpse of the work of an underwater archaeologist. Almost all the objects on loan originate from Sicily.

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Photos 27 february 2016 LG G4


Selinunte site and roads

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SELI5543Selinunte was one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily, situated on the southwest coast of that island, at the mouth of the small river of the same name, and 6.5 km west of that of the Hypsas (the modern Belice River). It was founded, according to the historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara, or Megara Hyblaea, under the conduct of a leader named Pammilus, about 100 years after the settlement of that city, with the addition of a fresh body of colonists from the parent city of Megara in Greece.[2] The date of its foundation cannot be precisely fixed, as Thucydides indicates it only by reference to that of the Sicilian Megara, which is itself not accurately known, but it may be placed about 628 BCE. Diodorus places it 22 years earlier, or 650 BCE, and Hieronymus still further back, 654 BCE. The date from Thucydides, which is probably the most likely, is incompatible with this earlier epoch. The name is supposed to have been derived from quantities of wild celery (Ancient Greek: σέλινον (selinon)) that grew on the spot. For the same reason, they adopted the celery leaf as the symbol on their coins.

In 416 BCE, a renewal of the old disputes between Selinunte and Segesta became the occasion of the great Athenian expedition to Sicily. The Selinuntines were the first to call in the powerful aid of Syracuse, and thus for a time obtained the complete advantage over their enemies, whom they were able to blockade both by sea and land; but in this extremity the Segestans had recourse to the assistance of Athens. Though the Athenians do not appear to have taken any measures for the immediate relief of Segesta, it is probable that the Selinuntines and Syracusans withdrew their forces at once, as we hear no more of their operations against Segesta. Nor does Selinunte bear any important part in the war of which it was the immediate occasion. Nicias indeed proposed, when the expedition first arrived in Sicily (415 BCE); that they should proceed at once to Selinunte and compel that city to submit on moderate terms; but this advice being overruled, the efforts of the armament were directed against Syracuse, and the Selinuntines in consequence bore but a secondary part in the subsequent operations. They are, however, mentioned on several occasions as furnishing auxiliaries to the Syracusans; and it was at Selinunte that the large Peloponnesian force sent to the support of Gylippus landed in the spring of 413 BCE, having been driven over to the coast of Africa by a tempest.

SELI5554The defeat of the Athenian armament apparently left the Segestans at the mercy of their rivals. They tried in vain to ease Selinuntine hostility by ceding without further contest the frontier district that was the original subject of dispute. The Selinuntines, however, were not satisfied with this concession, and continued to press them with fresh aggressions, leading the Segestans to seek assistance from Carthage. After some hesitation, Carthage sent a small force, with the assistance of which the Segestans defeated the Selinuntines in a battle. The Carthaginians in the following spring (409 BCE) sent over a vast army amounting, according to the lowest estimate, to 100,000 men, with which Hannibal Mago (the grandson of Hamilcar that was killed at Himera) landed at Lilybaeum, and from thence marched direct to Selinunte. The city’s inhabitants had not expected such a force and were wholly unprepared to resist it. The city fortifications were, in many places, in disrepair, and the auxiliary force promised by Syracuse and Agrigentum (modern Agrigento) and Gela, was not ready and did not arrive in time. The Selinuntines defended themselves with the courage of despair, and even after the walls were breached, continued the contest from house to house. However, the enemy’s overwhelming numbers rendered resistance hopeless, and after a ten-day siege the city was taken and most of the defenders put to the sword. According to sources, of the citizens of Selinunte 16,000 were slain, 5,000 made prisoners, and 2,600 under the command of Empedion escaped to Agrigentum. Shortly after, Hannibal destroyed the city walls, but gave permission to the surviving inhabitants to return and occupy it as tributaries of Carthage, an arrangement confirmed by the treaty subsequently concluded between Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, and the Carthaginians, in 405 BCE. In the interval a considerable number of the survivors and fugitives had been brought together by Hermocrates, and established within its walls. A considerable part of the citizens of Selinunte availed themselves of this permission, and that the city continued to subsist under the Carthaginian dominion; but a fatal blow had been given to its prosperity, which it undoubtedly never recovered.

SELI0686The Selinuntines are again mentioned in 397 BCE as declaring in favor of Dionysius during his war with Carthage; but both the city and territory were again given up to the Carthaginians by the peace of 383 BCE (Id. xv. 17); and though Dionysius recovered possession of it by arms shortly before his death, it is probable that it soon again lapsed under the dominion of Carthage. The Halycus, which was established as the eastern boundary of the Carthaginian dominion in Sicily by the treaty of 383 BCE, seems to have generally continued to be so recognized, notwithstanding temporary interruptions; and was again fixed as their limit by the treaty with Agathocles in 314 BCE. This last treaty expressly stipulated that Selinunte, as well as Heracleia and Himera, should continue subject to Carthage, as before. In 276 BCE, however, during the expedition of Pyrrhus to Sicily, the Selinuntines voluntarily submitted to that monarch, after the capture of Heracleia. During the First Punic War we again find Selinunte subject to Carthage, and its territory was repeatedly the theater of military operations between the contending powers. But before the close of the war (about 250 BCE), when the Carthaginians were beginning to contract their operations, and confine themselves to the defense of as few points as possible, they removed all the inhabitants of Selinunte to Lilybaeum and destroyed the city.

The site SELI5613
The temples SELI5524

September 2013, Canon G1 X and Canon S95



SELI5665According to the tradition used in Virgil’s Aeneid, Segesta was founded jointly by the territorial king Acestes (who was son of the local river Crinisus by a Dardanian woman named Segesta or Egesta) and by those of Aeneas’ folk who wished to remain behind with Acestes to found the city of Acesta.The belief that the name of the city was originally Acesta or Egesta and changed to Segesta by the Romans to avoid its ill-omened meaning in Latin is disproved by coins showing that Segesta was indeed the earlier name. The population of Segesta was mixed Elymian and Ionian Greek, though the Elymians soon Hellenized and took on external characteristics of Greek life. Segesta was in constant conflict with Selinus (modern Selinunte), which probably tried to assure itself a port on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The first clashes were in 580-576 BC, and again in 454 BC, but later the conflict would have repercussions for all of Sicily.

SELI5706In 415 BC Segesta asked Athens for help against Selinus, leading to a disastrous Athenian expedition in Sicily (415-413 BC). Later they asked Carthage for help, leading to the total destruction of the city of Selinus by the hands of Carthage. Segesta remained an ally of Carthage, it was besieged by Dionysius of Syracuse in 397 BC, and it was destroyed by Agathocles in 307 BC, but recovered. In 276 BC the city was allied with Pyrrhus, but changed side in 260 BC when it surrendered to the Romans. The city was not punished by the Romans for its long alliance with Carthage, but owing to the mythical common origin of the Romans and the Elymians (both descendants of refugees from Troy) it was granted the state of a “free and immune” city.
In 104 BC the slave rebellion led by Athenion started in Segesta. Little is known about the city under Roman rule, but it is probable that the population gradually moved to the port city of Castellammare del Golfo due to better trading opportunities. The city was destroyed by the Vandals.

The Greek theatre, very little is known about the city plan. Aerial photography indicates a regular city plan, built in part on terraces to overcome the natural sloping terrain. The current remains might be from the reconstruction after the destruction of the city by Agathocles.

SELI5661On a hill just outside the site of the ancient city of Segesta lies an unusually well preserved Doric temple. It is thought to have been built in the 420’s BC by an Athenian architect and has six by fourteen columns on a base measuring 21 by 56 meters, on a platform three steps high. Several things suggest that the temple was never actually finished. The columns have not been fluted as they normally would have been in a Doric temple and there are still tabs present in the blocks of the base (used for lifting the blocks into place but then normally removed). It also lacks a cella and was never roofed over. The temple is also unusual for being a Hellenic temple in a city not mainly populated by Greeks. It can also be noted that this temple lacks any painted or sculptured ornamentation, altar, and deity dedication. This temple escaped destruction by the Carthaginians in the late 5th century.

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Syracuse Museo Archeologico Paolo Orsi

From 1895 to 1934 Paolo Orsi directed the museum, but the increasing number of finds made a new space necessary at the current location in the garden of the villa Landolina. The new museum space, designed by the architect Franco Minissi was inaugurated in January 1988, with two floors of 9,0002. Initially only one floor and a basement of 3,000 m2 containing an auditorium were open to the public.

In 2006, a new exhibition area on the upper floor was inaugurated, dedicated to the classical period, but more space still remained unused. In 2014 a final expansion allowed the display of the Sarcophagus of Adelphia and other finds from the catacombs of Syracuse.
The museum contains artefacts from the prehistoric, Greek and Roman periods found in archaeological excavations in the city and other sites in Sicily.

SYRMUS4787Sector A is dedicated to the prehistoric (Upper Palaeolithic-Iron Age) with a display of rocks and fossils which testify to the various animals found in Sicily in the Quaternary. It is preceded by a section which displays the geological characteristics of the Mediterranean Sea and the Iblean zone.

In sector B, dedicated to the Greek colonies in Sicily from the Ionic and Doric period, it is possible to see the locations of the Greek colonies in Sicily and their respective mother cities. Also on display: a headless marble statue of a Kouros, found at Leontini from the fifth century BC. a bone kourotrophos, a headless female statue, holding two twins, which was found at Megara Hyblaea. votive statues of Demeter and Kore and a gorgon from the Doric colony at Megara Hyblaea a head of Augustus found at Centuripe.

In sector C there are finds from the colonies of Syracuse: Akrai (664 BC), Kasmenai (644 BC), Camarina (598 BC), Eloro, as well as finds from other centres of eastern Sicily, Gela ed Agrigento.

Sector D, located on the upper floor and inaugurated in 2006, contains finds from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It contains two of the most celebrated pieces in the museum, the Sarcophagus of Adelphia and the Venus Anadiomene, also called Venus Landolina after the location of its discovery, found in Syracuse in 1804 and described by Bernabò Brea as “for the excellence of its sculpting, an exquisite treatment of the naked form, of incredibly liveliness and softness”. Moreover, a selection of coins from the numismatic cabinet of the piazza Duomo is on display.