Archaeologists conducting excavations at the historic Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, have unveiled a remarkable collection of votive offerings, shedding new light on the rich history of this ancient Greek settlement.
The Valley of the Temples, encompassing a vast area of 3,212 acres, renowned for its awe-inspiring remnants of Ancient Greek civilization.
Historical accounts trace the origins of Agrigentum to around 582-580 BC, when Greek settlers from Gela, along with immigrants from Crete and Rhodes, established this flourishing city.
Notable among its architectural marvels are the Temple of Concordia, the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Heracles, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Hephaestus (Vulcan), and the Temple of Asclepius.
The Valley also holds the monumental “Tomb of Theron,” a pyramid-shaped edifice believed to commemorate Romans who perished during the Second Punic War. Recent excavations, however, have brought to light a treasure trove of artifacts that offer a deeper understanding of Agrigentum’s past.
Over sixty figurines, including terracotta statuettes, protomes, and female busts, have been unearthed alongside fragments of bronze, oil lamps, and small vases. These intricate offerings were discovered in House VII B, an integral part of the residential complex north of the Temple of Juno Lacinia.
In an announcement published by the Sicilian Region Institutional Portal: “The findings allow us to understand the dynamics of the destruction of Agrigentum in 406 BC by the Carthaginians when the inhabitants had to flee in exodus towards the city of Gela.”
The significance of the discovery lies in the strategic placement of these votive offerings. The artifacts were found above layers indicative of destruction within House VII B, implying that the city’s inhabitants placed these objects as offerings subsequent to the Carthaginian attack. This ritualistic act provides a poignant glimpse into the resilience and reverence of the ancient population amidst adversity.
Roberto Sciarratta, Director of the Valley of the Temples Park, emphasized the importance of this revelation: “It is a scientific intervention that we have supported in recent years, and which immediately gave important results. In the excavation area, which gives us a detailed reading of historical events, a large sector of the inhabited area had already been identified, that is houses from the Greek age, whose main phase ends with the conquest and destruction of the city by the Carthaginians.”
The Valley of the Temples stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Agrigentum. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997, this archaeological marvel has attracted over 23,400 visitors in a single weekend, attesting to its timeless allure and the resonance of its historical narratives.
“We work tirelessly to restore moments of history to Sicily that belong to it. The finds of the Valley, which is currently experiencing an extraordinary season with over 23,400 visitors only in the last weekend. They have arrived during an excavation campaign started in 2019 and then blocked by Covid and this makes the discovery even more significant. It seems that every site right now has something to tell us,” said Francesco Paolo Scarpinato, the Councilor for Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity.
The Valley of the Temples, a living testament to the ancient Greek civilization’s architectural prowess and spiritual devotion, continues to captivate and inspire, inviting visitors to connect with a bygone era.