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SELINUNTE – THE DIVINITIES’RUINS

Selinunte, founded in the mild of the VII century B.C. By mappa del parco archeologico di Selinuntesome colonists from Megara Hybela, an ancient Greek settlement near Syracuse raised as an economical and military power interweaving economical and political relationships with both the Elemi of Segesta and the Carthaginians. The city stretched its dominions quite rapidly, founding Eraclea Minoa (570 B.C.) and taking possession of a wide internal territory as far as the mouth of the Platani River.
Built on a calcareous hill, flanked by two rivers, the Modione (ancient Sèlinus- whose name derives from wild parsley) and the Cottone, it was for more than two centuries prosperous and powerful, with its own mintage and a population of more than 80.000 inhabitants.
Together with their primary Greek soul, the Selinuntini absorbed typically Punic usages and customs, artistically more articulate and original than any other Greek colony of eastern Sicily, as one can realize from the extraordinary beautiful metopes which once decorated the temples (sixteen of which are now exhibited in the archaeological museum of Palermo), or from the bronze statue called “Efebo di Selinunte” (kept in the Civic museum of Castelvetrano) which shows a Greek posture but with clear indigenous influences.
The relationship with Segesta, and consequently with Carthage, its traditional ally, after a period of pacific co-existence, based mostly on commercial exchanges, deteriorated because of boundary lone controversy.
The pretext for the conflict vas the war between Athens and Syracuse. Athens asked for help to Segesta and Selinunte, supporting Syracuse, defeated the Athenians expedition led by Nicia.
Segesta, feeling at the mercy of Selinunte asked for help to Carthage. After a siege of nine days (409 B.C.), Selinunte was destroyed. Soon after the Syracusan Ermocrate rebuilt the fortifications and established his head-quarter among those ruins appealing, in vain, the Sicilioti against the threat of Carthage. At the end of the third century B.C., the Carthaginians razed Selinunte to the ground not to let it fall in the Romans’ hands. The survivors moved to Lylibeum (the modern Marsala) Small communities frequented the site during the Byzantine and Arab period, then its memory went lost. It was in the mid of the sixteen hundreds that the monk Tommaso Fazello exactly located the ancient city. Archaeological Park was established in 1983, having an extension of 270 hectares not completely excavated.



THE ACROPOLIS

The hill on which it raises was levelled by the colonists in order to allow the construction of the first buildings.
Between the end of the VI century B.C. and the beginning of the V, the acropolis was enlarged Ricostruzione di Selinuntewith embankments, as we can observe at the entrance in the south-east corner.
Among the gates, which once led to the acropolis, the northern one, located at the end of the North-South artery, is the best preserved.
Within the acropolis they built numerous temples ad several public buildings.
On the northern side, we find the ruins of temple “D” built in the mid of the sixth century B.C ..
Quite close is temple “C”, the most archaic in this area. It was built in the mid of the sixth century B.C. with two altars, one in its south-eastern corner, the other one in front of the entrance.
On the front side it was decorated with sculpted metopes, while the two pediments were decorated with a big terracotta gorgon head. In 1925-26 they re-erected 14 columns on the northern side as well as some architraves.
Nearby is located the Hellenistic temple ”B”, probably dedicated to Empedoclem the philosopher of Agrigentom who co-ordinated the work for the drainage of malaric waters. Close to this temple is the most ancient sacred building of Selinunte.
In the southeastern corner of the Acropolis are two more temples, “A” and “O”, very close to each other and quite similar, daring back to the fifth century B.C.. During the middle Ages, they were converted into a fortress.
An altars was located right in front of temple “A”.

THE EASTERN HILL
Here three more temples had been erected: “E” “F” “G”. The latter is one of the biggest of the classical age: 110m long and five wide; the columns of the perystilium are 16m high with a diameter of 3,41 . The building was never completed. The material comes from the quarries of Cusa, located nine kilometres north-west from Selinunte where we can still admire signs of a glorious past. Southwards we find temple “F” built in the mid of the VI century B.C. . It was decorated with metopes, two of which, quite ruined, are kept in the archaeological museum of Palermo. There follows temple “E”, dedicated to Hera and dated back to the first half to the fifth century B.C. Its architecture marks the apogee of the Doric canonical style. The frieze of che pronaos was decorated with sculpted
metopes, five of which can be found in the archaeological museum of Palermo. At the end of the fifties, this temple was completed rebuilt. All those are the temples so far known , but on the Acropolis, for sure, was erected another temple, not yet exactly located, probably the first one to be built by the colonists of Megara, whose six archaic metopes date back to the beginning of the sixth century B.C.
The identification of the titular divinities is still mysterious, except for temple “E” which, tanks to an inscription, found there, we know was dedicated to Hera.

 

THE ANCIENT CITY

Quite few ruins remain of the ancient settlement because of the destruction to the Carthaginians. The survivors settled in the Acropolis. Recent diggings have brought to light part of the fortifications and a gate that was not known before.

MALOPHOROS SANCTUARY

The worshippers of this sanctuary, dedicated to the Malaphoros , goddess barer of pomegranates, were not only Greek. Actually some buildings brought to the light the ruins of sacred buildings of the second phase of life of Selinunte and some stele.

THE NECROPOLIS

The necropolis of Selinunte is more than one and counts numerous tombs. Thousands of items, especially vases and terracotta statues, come from there. Some of them have been found at 5 km. from the settlement so leading some scholars to believe they belonged to a different group, but, so far, there is not any clear evidence.