On a vast plateau about 850 m high, on the top of Mount Iato, you can visit the remains of an urban center founded at the beginning of the first millennium BC. by indigenous Sicano-Elime populations, who at the end of the seventh century. B.C. they came into contact with the Greeks who arrived in Sicily.
Around the middle of the 6th century BC a nucleus of Greek population probably had to settle in the city, cohabiting with the local people. For example, the Temple of Aphrodite seems to demonstrate this, a sacred building without an external colonnade according to a typology called ad oikos , built around 550 BC. and the numerous furnishings of indigenous tradition and colonial or Greek production found in a large two-story archaic house with a courtyard.
The city, defended by a wall, extended for about 40 hectares. Its Greek name was IAITAS, IETAS in Latin.
During the Hellenistic age (4th-2nd century BC) a major urban renewal interested the entire settlement: a regular road network was built, although adapted to the rugged morphology of the relief, and important public buildings: a theater that could accommodate about 4400 spectators , a public arcaded square (agora), two council chambers (bouleuteria), residential neighborhoods with stately homes. The dwelling known as "Casa a peristilio 1" is one of the largest so far known in the Greek Hellenistic world: more than 1600 square meters on two floors, with a Doric column courtyard on the ground floor and Ionic on the first floor; the banquet halls could accommodate over 70 people; in the tub of the elegant bathroom came the heated water with a sophisticated system built in the back.
The city was inhabited until the Middle Ages and its name became GIATO. Having become a stronghold of rebel Muslims, in 1246 the emperor Frederick II destroyed it and deported its inhabitants to Puglia.
Starting from 1971, annual excavation campaigns are being carried out by the Institute of Archeology of the Zurich University, which was joined by the Institute of Archeology of the Innsbruck University from 2011, with a multidisciplinary approach that includes archaeometric analysis, environmental, archaeobotanical, archaeozoological and organic residues. Since 2011, periodic excavation campaigns have also been conducted with the collaboration of the Archaeological Groups of Italy - headquarters of the Jato valley - in the area of the medieval fortification known as Castellazzo.