Πλησίον τοῦ τείχους. Aree di culto rupestri e ‘vie sacre’ presso le mura nella Sicilia di età classica ed ellenistica

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Abstract

The niches hewn in the rock in proximity to city gates and-walls are a recurring trait of the peri-urban landscape of Sicilian towns, especially in the south-eastern part of the island. Niches are pierced too, in multiple rows, on the walls of former quarries, in most cases close to the city walls, or in artificial caves used for cultic purposes, as inscriptions and traces of offerings testify. The excavations of Paolo Orsi in the latomie of Syracuse and Acre, in the rock or cave sanctuaries of Noto and Acre itself, and in the upper terrace of the theatre of Syracuse, suggested the main recipients of such worship were some “minor” deities like the Nymphs, the Muses or the Paides, and above all the heroes or heroized dead. This was inferred from several surviving inscriptions with heroic appellations, and from some reliefs depicting a riding or a banqueting hero, found in these contexts; the dedicants would be members of religious associations (thiasoi, eranoi, etc.) employing some parts of former quarries and caves for small-scale cultic activities. The paper analyzes such practice, focusing on the archaeological and topographical data at disposal. It explores the connection of the cultic installations with city walls and suburban streets linking the town with necropolises or extra- moenia sanctuaries, that has scarcely been appreciated heretofore, as a tool to understand meanings and purposes. For a full geographic and chronological coverage, the examples of Agrigento, Syracuse, Acre and Lilybaeum are treated in depth
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)143-183
Number of pages41
JournalANALYSIS ARCHAEOLOGICA
Volume5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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