A dip into archaeology

A dip into archaeology

Discover the territory and its hidden wonders

The history of this corner of Sicily has its roots over 2000 years ago and the testimonies of that era can be seen as much in Selinunte as in the quarries of Cusa from which the material for the construction of the temples was obtained, as much as in the backdrops where the dancing Satyr was also found. The visitors who arrive in Selinunte, the Greek city founded by the inhabitants of Megera Hyblaea around 628 BC, find themselves in front of one of the richest and most suggestive archaeological parks in the world, the largest in Europe. The remnants of the acropolis with the high defensive walls, the grandeur of the ruins of the temples, together with the three temples of the eastern hill offer unrepeatable suggestions, in a mixture of Sicilian and Greek style, myth and nature, and immerse the visitors in the history of a city that experienced moments of great development in the fifth century BC
Tourists can continue their discovery of the past of this corner of Sicily by visiting the quarries of Cusa whose name derives from the former and more recent owner, Barone Cusa. Here you can find the most exciting traces of the era in which the Greek settlers of Selinunte extracted 150,000 cubic meters of calcareous tuff, ideal for the construction of their magnificent temples.
This is an extraordinary place, approx. 11 km from Selinunte, unique in the archaeological world, which creates a very suggestive environment with vegetation: here time stopped in the distant 409 a. C. when Hannibal, son of Giscone, took the inhabitants of Selinunte by surprise and besieged the city destroying it. In the quarry area, approx. 1.7 Km, with rough and green slopes, the mining activity and the work of preparation and transport of the drums were interrupted, and never resumed, due to the sudden and impending Carthaginian threat: some blocks, just sketched or incomplete, were left in their working state; others, already cut and ready, were abandoned on the ground, while those that were about to be transported to Selinunte were unloaded along the road. Here it is possible to read the procedure used to obtain the column drums with a chisel and hammer. The circular incisions in the rock indicate the preliminary work of extraction, which was followed by excavation deep around them, up to the point where it was thought possible to extract the drum; once cut, it was probably covered with a wooden frame and transferred to a sturdy ox-drawn cart., In addition to the carvings on the rock, there are the deep cuts around two huge drums still attached to the calcareous bottom, of extraordinary charm.
It is well known that the stretch of sea that connects western Sicily to northern Africa was rich in commercial traffic and bitter struggles in the historical era, leaving behind an authentic archaeological heritage on the seabead. It is in these depths that the Dancing Satyr was found, today kept in the Museo del Satiro of Mazara del Vallo. An extremely rare example of Greek bronze statuary dating back to the 4th century BC, with praxitical and scopadei influences, the statue represents a young satyr with sharp ears, as a part of the orgiastic procession that accompanied the god of wine Dionysus; is in an attitude of swirling dance, with the left leg raised, the torso rotated and the arms extended. The head, left behind until it almost touches the shoulders, offers the hair to the wind in strands and suggests that the dancer is close to delirium. In his left hand he held a chalice, tilted because it was empty of wine, in the right he held the thyrsus.
The Museo del Satiro also exhibits finds from the waters of the Strait of Sicily, including the bronze fragment of an elephant’s paw from the Punic-Hellenistic period, a bronze cauldron from the Middle Ages, a selection of amphorae from the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic, Punic, Roman and medieval periods. Two iron cannons from Torretta Granitola, as well as some Corinthian and Ionic capitals from the same place are also exhibited.