Idea #748 – Exploring the two acropolises of Selinunte in Sicily
Selinunte, Σελινοῦς in Greek, is an ancient Greek city, located on the southern coast of Sicily. The date of the foundation of Selinunte is still the subject of debate: Thucydides dates it to 628/627 BC, while Diodorus of Sicily indicates it to 651 BC.
The colony prospered during the 6th century BC, and majestic temples were erected on its two acropolises. The acropolis is then surrounded by a wall 1200 meters long, pierced by 3 gates and flanked by 5 towers. It was repaired in 408 BC under Hermocrates, then again under Carthaginian domination, and remained maintained until the Arab invasions.
In territorial conflict with the Elymians, Selinunte faced Segesta in 580 BC. The city also took part in attempts at Greek colonization of the Punic west, but held an ambiguous position vis-à-vis Carthage. Selinunte allied with Carthage in 483 BC, then during the First Greco-Punic War, which opposed them to the Greeks. Following the defeat of Carthage, it welcomes the son of the defeated general Hamilcar, but changes its policy, and joins forces with the Greek cities, to maintain the fight against its rival Segesta.
In 409 BC, the Carthaginians destroyed the city, after a siege of nine days led by the troops of Hannibal de Giscon. Sign of its decline, its coinage then disappears. Selinunte was rebuilt in 408 BC, by Greeks and Carthaginians, notably by the Syracusan Hermocrates. The latter restored at his own expense, and in a hasty manner, part of the fortifications of the acropolis and had the two bastions of the north gate built which replaced the towers. In addition, the majority of the population deserts the acropolis to concentrate in the outer districts. The city remains however under the control of Carthage and must pay him a tribute.
In 241 BC, the inhabitants of Selinunte completely razed their town to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Roman army, which had just won the First Punic War. The site was partially occupied during Roman and Byzantine times and in the early Middle Ages, but it never regained its splendor. An earthquake ends up destroying the remains of the ancient city which is forgotten until its rediscovery in 1551 by the Dominican monk Tommaso Fazello. In 1779, a decree by Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies, prohibited Sicilians from using the ruins as a stone quarry.
From 1809, the archaeological excavations allow little by little to excavate the site. At that time, only one column of Temple G, commonly called Fusu dila Vecchia, was visible. The site today presents the remains of several temples, on the two acropolises, of the rampart, and of the necropolis.
Where is it ?
Sélinonte, Sicily, Italia