Morgantina is an archaeological site in east central Sicily. It was inhabited in several periods. According to Strabo Morgantina was founded by a pre-Roman Italian group known as the Morgetes of Rhegium. Dionysius of Halicarnassus wrote that the Morgetes were led by a king named Morges. The earliest historical date associated with Morgantina is 459 BCE, when Ducetius, leader of the indigenous Sicel population of central Sicily, attacked the city and captured it. Morgantina was probably still under Ducetius' control when he was defeated at Nomai by Syracuse in 449 BCE.

No later mention of Morgantina is made until Thucydides lists it as part of the terms of a truce in the war of 427–424 BCE between Syracuse and the Dorian cities of Sicily on one side, and Kamarina, the Khalkidian cities of Sicily, the Sikels, and Athens on the other side. Thucydides says that Syracuse agreed at the Congress of Gela to give Morgantina to Kamarina in return for payment of an indemnity. Kamarina was destroyed in 405 by the Carthaginians. Morgantina therefore must have been independent from at least this date, although it was soon recaptured by Dionysios of Syracuse in 396. Syracuse retained (occasionally more nominal than actual) control of Morgantina until the Second Punic War. In 317, Morgantina received the tyrant Agathocles, then in exile, and offered him help in returning to Syracuse. He was elected praetor at Morgantina, and later dux.

As part of the Syracusan kingdom of Hiero II, Morgantina fell under the hegemony of Rome when Hieron became a Roman vassal in 263. In 214, Morgantina switched its allegiance from Rome to Carthage. Morgantina remained autonomous until 211, when it became the last Sicilian town to be captured by the Romans. It was given as payment by Rome to a group of Spanish mercenaries. In 133, Morgantina was the place where Eunus, the leader of the slave rebellion known as the First Servile War, died. In the Second Servile War, Morgantina was besieged and taken by slaves. The final mention of Morgantina comes again from Strabo, who notes that in his own time, the first century CE, the city had ceased to exist.

A few literary sources describe Morgantina and its economy. Most famous of these are the references to the vitis murgentina, a strain of grape mentioned by Cato, Columella, and Pliny the Elder. These grapes were prized for their wine — Pliny called it 'the very best among all those that come from Sicily' — and had been transplanted from Sicily to mainland Italy by the 2nd century BCE.



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Unnamed Road, Aidone, Italy
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Founded: 5th century BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

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User Reviews

Justin Vassallo (11 months ago)
Super impressive ruins. A must see for anyone. Pity that not enough money is available for care and restoration. Information boards could be much more informative and helpful. Be ready to spend 3 hours if you intend to skim through. A whole day if you're really into it.
Brady Nielsen (19 months ago)
Morgantina seems to be one of those amazing places that still has yet to really be discovered. I say that because this place is like a whole history lesson of pre-Roman times with so much to see, but doesn’t seem to get much tourist traffic. Admittedly, it is a drive from the more regular tourist spots on Sicily, and it is a bit difficult to find, but well worth an afternoon to visit if you have the time. I can see here that others have mentioned problems with faded information signs and unclear visiting hours, but I didn’t have a problem getting in during an afternoon, and I found the signs to be sufficient for reading. The really amazing thing about this site is that the whole layout of the pre-Roman village is still preserved to the point that you can make out the layout of the city and get a very good idea (from the layout, topography, and information signs) of what day-to-day life was like for these people. The ruins are beautiful and definitely make a great challenge with easy subjects for any novice to professional photographers out there. (The fact that there aren’t many visitors certainly helps as well.) The parking is great and the fee is minimal. Bring water and prepare to be educated.
Janelle Moore (2 years ago)
Definitely worth it to see how these old ruins laid preserved for so long. Not much of an explaination and beware that hours are not well listed. We were told they closed at 130pm in the middle of September.
sara Hamilton-Jones (2 years ago)
Incredible site - absolutely deserves a visit! Feels like walking in an ancient Roman city. The only downside is that there are no explanations and it seems like the site is not looked after...
Olivier Le Gall (2 years ago)
An incredible archeological site: an entire city from the 3rd century BC with a wonderful view over the countryside up to the Etna. The past history of the site is very interesting, entangled as it is in the ancient history of Sicily during the Greek/Roman period. It is clearly worth a visit or would even deserve a special travel. However, there are virtually no explanations for the visitors: no map of the site available, posted boards completely whitened, high grass throughout covering the paths, etc. It is really a pity that such an amazing place is abandoned!!!
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