Echoes of Ancient Greece – Part 1
As you may know the Aegadian Islands consist of three separate, small islands off of the coast of Sicily. Those Islands are Marettimo, Favignana and Levanzo. These places each play host to small (some smaller than others) communities that have become known for their relatively slow paced and relaxed way of living. The trouble is, with these communities being so remote there is actually very little in the way of recorded history. There are a few cave paintings that tell us of prehistoric civilisations and a few building that tell stories of their own however apart from that there are very few sources that tell us about the islands ancient past. That isn’t to say that it’s impossible though, in fact much of the culture is tied intrinsically to that of Sicily’s and it’s here that we can see the beliefs and origins of much the culture that would have existed on the islands as well.
We do know the islands were at one point inhabited by what we now know as the Ancient Greek civilisation, roughly around the 4th Century BCE which is likely due to its close proximity to the important Greek settlements in Sicily, most notably the ancient city of Syracuse which was one of the most important and powerful of the Western Greek colonies. In fact it’s thanks to the preservation of many of the remains of these settlements across Sicily that we can get a glimpse into the life of these Greeks, their beliefs and their way of life in this area of the Mediterranean.
Ruins of Sicily
The Valley of Temples – Also known as the’ Valle dei Templi’, this is an archaeological site located in Argrigento which consists of 7 separate sights amongst other remains of Ancient Greek culture. It has been noted as one of the finest examples of art and architecture from Greater Greece and is not only one of Sicily’s main attractions but also a national monument of Italy. It has since gone on to become one a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amazingly, the Archaeological and Landscape Park of the Valley of Temples spreads over 1,300 hectares making it the largest archaeological site in the world.
The best kept of these temples is the Temple of Concordia, it is widely regarded as the best preserved Greek temple outside of the Parthenon and still has much of its exterior build intact. Other temples here include The Temple of Juno, The Temples of Heracles, The Temple of Hephaestus and the Temple of Asclepius. These examples of Greek centres of worship show us how important their religion was to them, they built numerous shrines to the Greek gods which would have required offerings and sacrifices that would have been done here in these magnificent buildings.
Another interesting site here at the Valley of Temples is the Olympeion Field which once played host to the apparently magnanimous Temple of the Olympian Zeus. Unfortunately it has since been reduced to rubble but according to a historian named Polybius though the temple was never completed it was “second it seems to none in Greece in designs and dimensions”, a clear sign that this area was truly an important centre of Greek culture.