The plant landscape of the Sicilian archaeological areas through the iconographic documentation of travellers and naturalists

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The landscape is commonly defined as the set of physical and historical-anthropological charactersexpressed by a territory. Our re-elaboration defines the landscape as the set of perceivable charactersof a territory expressed in relation to the stratification of the occurred natural and cultural processes.The Grand Tour reports are one of the most effective means to fix at least one stage of evolution fromthe Sicilian landscape, before its further transformation. These reports provide often a stereotypicalimage of the landscape of the Island, in particular as regards the major archaeological areas subjectedto particular attention by the cultured travellers.The authors summarize the characters of the plant landscape of the main Sicilian archaeologicalareas, through the analysis of both the rich documentation handed down by travellers, in particularof the Grand Tour, and the descriptions of some naturalists who visited the region, between the secondhalf of the 18th and the whole 19th century portraying and /or describing the most expressiveplaces of its classicism.In the landscape of these areas, the ruins are almost always framed by men in transit or in front ofthe archaeological remains or in the surrounding area dedicated to the livestock care, with sparse treesand bushes, sometimes constituted by exotic elements very incisive for the travellers,in majorityEuropean from across the Alps; being unknown in the travellers’countriesthey represented very attractivesubjects. In fact, Opuntia ficus-indica, Agave americana and the historicized Phoenix dactyliferaare frequent. Among the indigenous elements we can recognize Olea europaea, Ceratonia siliqua,Ficus carica and other species of leafy trees, partly survived and still present on the margins of theancient temples and theatres. Among these there would be Celtis australis, Fraxinus ornus, Quercusilex, Ulmus canescens. In the archaeological landscapes of the time, pines and cypresses are missing:these trees were already introduced and widespread in Italy in Roman times but they appeared aroundthe Sicilian archaeological areas starting from the late nineteenth century.The subject of this demonstration is presented by relating some photographic images of the places –obviously later - beginning with the Alinari Archive (end of the 800s beginning of the 20th century),with reproductions of iconographic documents by J.P.L.L. Houel (1782-87), P. Brydone (1806), R.Saint-Non (1785), J.W. Goethe (1787) and other travellers (J.F. D'Ostervald, 1822-24; D.-D. Farjasse,1835; C. A. Schneegans, 1890 and G. Vuillier, 1893). In this path of great utility was the reading of thetravel diaries of some naturalists, in particular C.S. Rafinesque Schmaltz (1810) and K. Presl (1817).
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine1
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2018


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