Pugliaindifesa Historical monuments Hellenistic family altar found in Sicily

Hellenistic family altar found in Sicily

Hellenistic family altar found in Sicily

Late Hellenistic altarpiece (ca. 1st century BC) was discovered in the archaeological park of Segesta in Sicily. It was discovered just a few centimeters below the surface during land clearing in the South Acropolis area.

The altar is a sculptural stone product in the form of a truncated pyramid, decorated with carved stucco and reliefs. Small round moldings line the base, and in the center is a high relief surmounted by baskets overflowing with flowers and fruit. At the top of the altar is a horizontal terracotta brick with Ionic volutes at each end. It was probably intended to hold relics or references to family heroes or ancestors. It has a niche at the back where a metal hook could be attached to secure it to the masonry.

1688616303 644 Hellenistic family altar found in Sicily | PugliaindifesaA second related item found next to it was either a smaller altar or possibly a support for a cult statue. It has a rough surface, which contributes to the adhesion of gypsum. 1688616303 979 Hellenistic family altar found in Sicily | PugliaindifesaAt least three sides were originally plastered and probably painted. Only one small piece of plaster has survived today. The top has a stucco cornice and a horizontal surface, like the large altar. Both parts were intended for family worship, not for public ceremonies.

1688616304 651 Hellenistic family altar found in Sicily | PugliaindifesaSegesta was founded by the Elymians, one of the three cultural groups that were the original inhabitants of Sicily. Ancient sources report that Segesta was in territorial rivalry with Selinunte as early as 580 BC. It was this long-standing conflict that forced the cities to enter into alliances with the Greek states and colonies. Segesta partnered with Athens in the 5th century BC, but the alliance failed to prevent its destruction by the Greek tyrant Agathocles of Syracuse in 307 BC. Whom he did not kill, he sold into slavery, and the city never fully recovered.

Unfinished Doric temple.  Photo by Flavio Leone Sisilab CoopCulture Sicilia.He supported Carthage in the early years of the 4th century BC, but abandoned it during the First Punic War (264 BC), turning to Rome for naval and military assistance. It remained an important port city throughout the 2nd century AD, but after that the ancient sources cease to mention it and it was permanently abandoned during the Arab occupation of Sicily around 900 AD.

The ruins of the Hellenistic city on a steep hilltop overlooking the Gulf of Castellammare today represent archaeological park. There is a Greek theater and a Doric temple, which was never completed.

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