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.

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Unnamed Road, Aidone, Italy
See all sites in Aidone

Details

Founded: 5th century BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Justin Vassallo (4 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 (12 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!!!
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.