Start . 2023
Principal Investigator . Ronaldo Gurgel Pereira (CHAM)
Main Research Unit
CHAM — Centro de Humanidades
Parco Archeologico della Valle dei Templi, Agrigento
Akragas was founded ca. 580 B.C.E. by settlers from Rhodes and Crete, who had a century earlier founded the nearby city of Gela. Siding with Syracuse against Carthage, the city prospered following the battle of Himera in 480 B.C.E. From this period the city became known for its architectural splendour, especially its large Doric temples in sandstone. At its peak, the polis may have had ca. 300,000 inhabitants, and it was enclosed by over 12 km of fortification walls which included nine gates.
The city was attacked, besieged, and then destroyed by the Carthaginians in 406 B.C.E. Diodorus Siculus (13.80. 1-2) describes how a pair of Carthaginian strategoi campaigned in Sicily in 406 B.C.E. Diodorus relates that Himilkon was the one who captured the deserted Akragas in that year, having Annibas died of the plague. The Syracusans granted the city of Leontine to the refugees of Akragas, who had fled to Gela (Diod. 13.89.2).
As part of the archaeological investigations conducted since the early 1920s in the area of the ancient town, interesting data was recovered on the phases of destruction and attendance relating to the Carthaginian presence in the Agrigento area. The southern oriental edge of the Rupe Atenea hill is demarked by a rocky scarped ridge oriented East-West. Following the ridge, it lies the city wall of Akragas, and its fortified Gate II (also called “The Gate of Gela”).
Between 1986-1989 new archaeological fieldwork found part of an insula (Insula I) hosting both artisanal and residential purposes. The so-called “Punic Quarter” is located East of the monumental cemetery, oriented by North-East/South-West axis. However the insula longitudinal limits are not known yet. This project addresses that small lower class quarter in the vicinities of Gate II – traditionally called “the Punic Quarter”. It proposes an updated architectural survey of the insula for the protection and conservation of the ancient monument; definition of the extension and structuring of the insula with respect to the urban grid.
A research program that aims to outline the overall picture of the urban development of that area on the basis of the evolution of domestic architecture models. The work program will be organized according to the following scheme, which may, if necessary, be integrated during construction:
1. Recognition, analysis and periodization of excavation data already acquired, relating to the oldest evidence of private residential buildings in the urban area;
2. Analysis and sampling of construction techniques relating to masonry and floor and wall coverings;
3. Definition of the types of houses, of which the organization and function of the spaces, extension and distribution with respect to the built-up area as a whole will be specified;
4. Dating of the types of dwellings identified, also through new archaeological investigations aimed at clarifying the absolute chronology of the building phases;
5. Study of the reference cultural models for the building typologies and of the modalities of re-elaboration of the same on the basis of the territorial peculiarities;
6. Elaboration of general and detailed plans and three-dimensional reconstructions
The final result of the research will be an analytical evaluation, based on the detailed study of the buildings and of the stratigraphies associated with the different construction phases, of the weight that the Italian models of domestic building in the Greek and Punic environment and of the importance of territorial cultural heritage in the elaboration of local typologies of private building.
The more general historical-archaeological framework of the Carthaginian settlements of 4th c. B.C.E. on the Sicilian territory, the deepening, through new archaeological investigations in extension, of the analysis of the elements that characterize this phase of settlement of the ancient town of Agrigento will be of great interest.
Ronaldo Gurgel Pereira (CHAM)
Maria Concetta Parello – Parco Archeologico e Paesaggistico Valle dei Templi, Agrigento – (Faculty Member, Unità Operativa V)
Vanessa Boschloos - Universiteit Gent – (Guest Professor of the research unit Mediterranean Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology)
Carmen Muñoz Pérez - Universidad de Cádiz – (Post-Doc, Departamento de Historia, Geografía y Filosofía)