AREA ARCHEOLOGICA DI MONTE SANT’ANGELO

 
Castello di Monte Sant'Angelo

Mount Sant'Angelo is located immediately to the west of the mouth of the Salso, the ancient southern Imera, which in antiquity was one of the most important routes of penetration into the interior and for a long time marked the border between the western and eastern parts of the island. Archaeological research has brought to light an important settlement from the Hellenistic period in which Finziad, the foundation of the Agrigento tyrant Finzia, was recognised in 282 BC. Excavations in recent years have made it possible to trace the urban layout of the city, the blocks of which are inserted into an orthogonal urban grid with wide streets, plateiai, intersected by narrower, perpendicular streets, stenopoi, according to a scenic terraced layout typical of Hellenistic cities and dating from the end of the 3rd to the beginning of the 2nd century BC. C.

 

The numerous houses brought to light in the sector of the settlement arranged along the southern slopes of the mountain in fact have fairly uniform characteristics. With a quadrangular plan, they generally have about ten rooms, whose function has been defined in some cases, distributed around a courtyard in which there is always a water cistern. For some of these houses the presence of an upper floor has also been documented. The floors were generally made of lime and pebbles or of brick or cocciopesto, while the walls, covered with stucco, were often decorated with richly moulded cornices. In one of these houses, during excavations in the 1990s, an exceptional find was made of a small treasure containing several pieces of gold jewellery, including several bracelets, a ring and a sakkòs, a medallion with the head of Medusa in relief with a double chain with movable links of very fine workmanship and over four hundred silver coins.

 

The settlement had two building phases, the first, contemporary with its foundation, presented a layout with streets and houses that were adapted to the orography of the land, the second, characterised by the regular urban layout we have mentioned, which seems to date from after the Second Punic War, when Sicily became part of the territories controlled by Rome. The wealth expressed by the dwellings would seem to be linked to a change in the function of the site of Finziade, which, having exhausted its role as a political-military outpost, became an important commercial centre, acting as a hub for the trade in agricultural produce from the latifundia in the interior of the island to Rome. The destruction and subsequent abandonment of the site can be dated to the early imperial age.

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