Kamarina was an ancient city on the southern coast of Sicily. It was founded by Syracuse in 599 BC, but destroyed in 552 BC.

The Geloans, however, founded it anew in 461 BC, under the Olympic charioteer Psaumis of Camarina. It seems to have been in general hostile to Syracuse, but, though an ally of Athens in 427 BC, it gave some slight help to Syracuse in 415–413 BC. It was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 405 BC, restored by Timoleon in 339 BC after its abandonment by Dionysius' order, but in 258 BC fell into the hands of the Romans.

Its complete destruction dates from AD 853. The site of the ancient city is among rapidly shifting sandhills, and the lack of stone in the neighborhood has led to its buildings being used as a quarry even by the inhabitants of Gela, so that nothing is now visible above ground but a small part of the wall of the temple of Athena and a few foundations of houses; portions of the city wall have been traced by excavation, and the necropolis has been carefully explored.

The marsh

Just before the Carthaginians razed Kamarina in the 5th century BC, the Kamarinians were plagued with a mysterious disease. The marsh of Kamarina had protected the city from its hostile neighbors to the north. It was suspected that the marsh was the source of the strange illness and the idea of draining the marsh to end the epidemic became popular (the germ theory of disease was millennia in the future, but some people associated swamps with disease). The town oracle was consulted. The oracle advised the leaders not to drain the marsh, suggesting the plague would pass with time. But the discontent was widespread and the leaders opted to drain the marsh against the oracle's advice. Once it was dry, there was nothing stopping the Carthaginian army from advancing. They marched across the newly drained marsh and razed the city, killing every last inhabitant.

The story of the marsh is told by the Roman geographer Strabo and repeated by Carl Sagan in Pale Blue Dot. The story of the city is recounted by the latter author as a lesson: that action guided by fear and ignorance often intensifies the problems it seeks to ameliorate.

Remains

Modern remains are scanty. They include archaic tombs (seventh century BC) and ruins of a temple of Athena. Nearby are tombs of a necropolis from the fifth-fourth century BC. Part of the remains are now in the archaeological museum of Syracuse. The archaeological park includes the remains of a 'Hamman qbel Jamaa' - public baths used before entering the mosque, one of only two known on the island.

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 599 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

AR 6 (21 months ago)
Luigi Saitta (2 years ago)
Quiet place and a stone's throw from the sea. Also in 10min. It can walk to the village of Punta Secca, to enjoy pizza at the pizzeria Island.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Roman Walls of Lugo

Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.

Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.

The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.

Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.

Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.

The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.