Morgantina is an archaeological site in east central Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, southern Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. It is sixty kilometres (forty miles) from the coast of the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

, in the province of Enna. The closest modern town is Aidone
Aidone is a town and comune in the province of Enna, in region of Sicily in southern Italy.-Main sights:* Church of Santa Maria la Cava* Mother Church of San Lorenzo...

, two kilometres southwest of the site. The site consists of a two-kilometre long ridge running southwest–northeast, known as Serra Orlando, and a neighboring hill at the northeast called Cittadella. Morgantina was inhabited in several periods. The earliest major settlement was made at Cittadella and lasted from about 1000/900 to about 450 BCE. The other major settlement was located on Serra Orlando, and existed from about 450 BCE to about 50 CE. Morgantina has been the subject of archaeological investigation since the early 20th century.

Serra Orlando was identified as Morgantina by Kenan Erim following the discovery of a number of coins bearing the Latin word HISPANORUM. Erim (in an article in 1958) used these coins and passages from Livy to argue that the city found at Serra Orlando was in fact the ancient city of Morgantina.


The name appears in different forms among different authors: Morgantia, Murgantia, and Morgantium in scholarship; in ancient sources: , Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

; , Diod.: the name is variously written by Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 writers Murgantia, Murgentia, and Morgentia; the inhabitants are called by Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 and Pliny
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, Murgentini).

According to Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, Morgantina was founded by a pre-Roman Italian group known as the Morgeti. Dionysos of Halikarnassos wrote that the Morgetes were led by a king named Morges. The earliest historical date associated with Morgantina is 459 BCE, when Douketios, leader of the indigenous Sikel
The Sicels were an Italic people who inhabited ancient Sicily. The Sicels gave Sicily the name it has held since antiquity, but they rapidly fused into the culture of Magna Graecia.-History:...

 population of central Sicily, attacked the city and captured it. Morgantina was probably still under Douketios' control when he was defeated at Nomai by Syracuse
Syracuse, Italy
Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in...

 in 449 BCE. No further mention of Morgantina is made until Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

 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
thumb|240px|Remains of the Temple of Athena.Kamarina is an ancient city of Sicily, southern Italy, situated on the south coast, about 27 kilometers South East of Gela . It was founded by Syracuse in 599 BC, but destroyed by the mother city in 552 BC. Its remains are today in the municipality of...

, the Khalkidian cities of Sicily, the Sikels, and Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 on the other side. Thucydides says that Syracuse agreed at the Congress of Gela
Congress of Gela
The Congress of Gela was a diplomatic meeting between a number of Sicilian cities in 424 BC. It brought a temporary halt to several years of warfare between cities on the island. At the conference, the Sicilian cities agreed to a Syracusan proposal to make peace and agree to a platform of "Sicily...

 to give Morgantina to Kamarina in return for payment of an indemnity. Kamarina was destroyed in 405 by the Carthaginians
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

. Morgantina therefore must have been independent from at least this date, although it was soon re-captured by Dionysios
Dionysius I of Syracuse
Dionysius I or Dionysius the Elder was a Greek tyrant of Syracuse, in what is now Sicily, southern Italy. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies...

 of Syracuse in 396. Syracuse retained (occasionally more nominal than actual) control of Morgantina until the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

. In 317, Morgantina received the tyrant Agathokles
Agathocles , , was tyrant of Syracuse and king of Sicily .-Biography:...

, 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 Hieron II
Hiero II of Syracuse
Hieron II , king of Syracuse from 270 to 215 BC, was the illegitimate son of a Syracusan noble, Hierocles, who claimed descent from Gelon. He was a former general of Pyrrhus of Epirus and an important figure of the First Punic War....

, Morgantina fell under the hegemony of Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 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
Eunus , a slave from Apamea in Syria, became leader of the slave uprising in the First Servile War in Sicily. Eunus rose to prominence in the movement through his reputation as a wonder-worker and prophet...

, the leader of the slave rebellion known as the First Servile War
First Servile War
The First Servile War of 135–132 BC was an unsuccessful rebellion of slaves against the Roman Republic. The war was prompted by slave revolts in Enna on the island of Sicily. It was led by Eunus, a former slave claiming to be a prophet, and Cleon, a Cilician who became Eunus's military commander...

 died. In the Second Servile War
Second Servile War
The Second Servile War was an unsuccessful slave uprising against the Roman Republic on the island of Sicily. The war lasted from 104 BC until 100 BC....

, 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
Cato the Elder
Marcus Porcius Cato was a Roman statesman, commonly referred to as Censorius , Sapiens , Priscus , or Major, Cato the Elder, or Cato the Censor, to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger.He came of an ancient Plebeian family who all were noted for some...

, Columella
Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella is the most important writer on agriculture of the Roman empire. Little is known of his life. He was probably born in Gades , possibly of Roman parents. After a career in the army , he took up farming...

, and Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

. 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.

Early work on Serra Orlando

The earliest excavations at Morgantina were undertaken by Luigi Pappalardo in 1884. He uncovered part of a necropolis, a large terracotta drain and two houses. One of the houses he found, the Pappalardo house, was named for him by later American excavators.

Paolo Orsi recorded stray finds from Morgantina and excavated trial trenches in 1912. He located a terrace of nine steps, walls, as well as what he called 'a Roman house'.

Princeton University

Morgantina has been the principal site of American research on classical Sicily (currently there are two other sites on the island with significant American presences: the Soprintendenza BB.CC.AA. di Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

's excavations at Palike, and the work undertaken by Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 and Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University is a state university and research institution located in DeKalb, Illinois, with satellite centers in Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Rockford, and Oregon. It was originally founded as Northern Illinois State Normal School on May 22, 1895 by Illinois Governor John P...

 as part of a consortium of primarily Scandinavian institutions at Monte Polizzo
Halyciae is the ancient name for one of the settlements of the Elymians on the island of Sicily, known as Alicia in more recent Italian scholarship...

). In 1955, a major project was begun by Princeton University, under the supervision of Professors Erik Sjöqvist
Erik Sjöqvist
Erik Sjöqvist was the director of Swedish Cyprus Expedition and director of Swedish Institute at Rome, Italy and professor of classical archaeology at Princeton University....

 and Richard Stillwell. The excavations on the (at that time unidentified) town were intended to serve as training for graduate students in Princeton's Department of Art and Archaeology. Major figures who participated in work at Morgantina include Kenan T. Erim, Donald White, T. Leslie Shear, Jr., Ione Mylonas Shear, R. Ross Holloway, Stephen Miller
Stephen Miller
Stephen Miller was an American Republican politician. He was the first Civil War veteran to serve as Minnesota Governor. He was the fourth Governor of Minnesota.-Early years and business entrepreneur:...

, Paul Deussen
Paul Deussen
Paul Jakob Deussen was a German Orientalist and Sanskrit scholar. He was influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer. He was also a friend of Friedrich Nietzsche and Swami Vivekananda.In 1911, he founded the Schopenhauer Society...

, and Karl Erik Östenberg. Special mention should also be made of Sweden's King Gustaf VI Adolf
Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden
Gustaf VI Adolf - Oscar Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf - was King of Sweden from October 29, 1950 until his death. His official title was King of Sweden, of the Goths and of the Wends. He was the eldest son of King Gustaf V and his wife Victoria of Baden...

, who came to Morgantina on several occasions in the 1950s at the invitation of Sjöqvist, his former secretary, to work at the site.

Hubert Allen and the University of Illinois

In the mid-1960s, Princeton graduate student Hubert L. Allen assumed a role in the administration of the excavations. Upon receiving his doctorate, Allen was hired by the University of Illinois, which then began to co-sponsor the Morgantina project. The death of Sjöqvist and retirement of Stillwell in the early 1970s led to Princeton's withdrawal from direct involvement in the excavations. Allen continued to lead the project until 1975, when he was denied tenure at Illinois and took a position with University of Illinois computer sciences. At that point, American work at Morgantina was put on hold.

The University of Virginia and Wesleyan University

The excavations had produced vast amounts of artifacts and data, but as yet there was no final publication. In 1978, Malcolm Bell, III, professor of classical art and archaeology at the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

, took over the project with the goal of publishing the Morgantina material. Bell was a former Princeton graduate student (Sjöqvist had been Bell's advisor until his retirement) who had written his dissertation on terracotta figurines found at Morgantina. He has conducted investigations on Serra Orlando since 1982, each time with the intention of answering specific questions raised by earlier work. Meanwhile, publication of monographs on material discovered at Morgantina commenced in 1980 with Bell's book based on his dissertation work.

In 1990, Carla Antonaccio, then on the faculty of Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...

 but now at Duke University
Duke University
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B...

, herself a Princeton graduate, assumed responsibility for publishing the post-7th century BCE settlement on Cittadella. Since that time, both Virginia and Wesleyan, along with many other American and Italian institutions, have sent scholars and students to conduct research. Notable scholars currently working on the project include Barbara Tsakirgis of Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1873, the university is named for shipping and rail magnate "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided Vanderbilt its initial $1 million endowment despite having never been to the...

 on the houses of Serra Orlando, Jenifer Neils of Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University is a private research university located in Cleveland, Ohio, USA...

 on figured pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

, Barbara Barletta of the University of Florida
University of Florida
The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

 on architectural moldings, Rosa Maria Albanese Procelli and Enrico Procelli, both of the University of Catania on the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 material, John Kenfield of Rutgers University
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

 on architectural terracottas, and Robert Leighton of the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

 on the protohistoric settlement on Cittadella.

The site's archives are currently housed at the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, though some materials also exist at the University of Illinois.

North Baths

Since 2003 Sandra K. Lucore (formerly of the University of Tokyo
University of Tokyo
, abbreviated as , is a major research university located in Tokyo, Japan. The University has 10 faculties with a total of around 30,000 students, 2,100 of whom are foreign. Its five campuses are in Hongō, Komaba, Kashiwa, Shirokane and Nakano. It is considered to be the most prestigious university...

, now an independent scholar) has led excavations of the 3rd century BC North Baths complex that have produced interesting results including evidence of one of the earliest examples of dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

 and barrel vault
Barrel vault
A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve along a given distance. The curves are typically circular in shape, lending a semi-cylindrical appearance to the total design...



The bouleuterion
A bouleuterion was a building which housed the council of citizens in Ancient Greece. There are several extant remains of Bouleuterions around Greece and former Greek territories of ancient times....

 in Morgantina is a rectangular building located west of the agora of the city. It was founded during the 3rd century BC, a period of great prosperity for Morgantina, which, from 5th century BC on had acquired a profoundly Hellenic character.

The building had a bipartite plan. A walled forecourt led through a stoa to the main entrance, centrally located at the east wall of the auditorium. A rectangular substructure held wooden benches where the assembly sat to listen to the speakers. Stone buttressing, connected to this substructure, supported the south retaining wall.

Today, only the foundation and parts of the south side of the auditorium are preserved.

The Aidone archaeological museum

A museum was opened in Aidone in 1980 to house finds from Morgantina. The building, dating from the 17th century, is a former Capuchin
Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an Order of friars in the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Father Mauro Jöhri.-Origins :...

Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

. The museum is run by the Soprintendenza BB.CC.AA. di Enna
Enna is a city and comune located roughly at the center of Sicily, southern Italy, in the province of Enna, towering above the surrounding countryside...

. There are two floors of exhibits, covering the site's prehistoric, archaic, and classical periods, along with a thematic display that draws attention to aspects of ancient daily life.

External links

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