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Journal of archaeology and ancient architecture

Tag Archives: Agrigento

The Gymnasium of Agrigento: Report of the First Excavation Campaign in 2022

Authors: M. Trümper, T. Lappi, A. Fino, C. Blasetti Fantauzzi
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The gymnasium of Agrigento has been excavated between the 1950s and 2005. While parts of a race-track section and a pool were revealed between two stenopoi, the extension of the gymnasium and the existence of a palaestra as well as the construction date could not be securely determined. A project launched in 2019 in cooperation between the Parco Archeologico e Paesaggistico Valle dei Templi di Agrigento and the Freie Universität Berlin aims to solve these questions. Based on the results of a geophysical survey, four trenches were excavated in 2022 in a field to the north of the pool where the palaestra was most likely located. The aim of this paper is to discuss the results of the 2022 campaign. After a brief discussion of the chronology established in previous excavations, the trenches are presented from south (trench 1) to north (trench 4), followed by new insights regarding the architecture. In trenches 1 and 2, well-made ashlar walls were found that are consistent in orientation, building technique, and material with the previously exposed walls of the gymnasium and may have belonged to the searched palaestra. In trench 3, the continuation of the western stenopos appeared. Trench 4 was made at the supposed crossing of this stenopos with a plateia but did not yield any evidence of built structures or street pavements. The analysis of the architecture showed that previously proposed reconstructions are problematic, particularly regarding the architecture of the xystosstoa. Revisions regarding the reconstruction of the Doric order and its chronology are proposed here, suggesting a period between the end of the 3rd and the first half of the 2nd century B.C.

La krene nell’area del teatro di Agrigento: dati preliminari

Authors: L.M. Caliò, A. Fino, G.M. Gerogiannis

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This paper reports the preliminary results of the research carried out west of the theater area of Agrigentum, with the aim of understanding and specifying the boundaries of the large public space in which the complex insists. The excavations of this sector, in fact, stand in continuity with those of the theater, constituting almost an appendix. The area, excavated since 2017, has returned over the years an intricate stratigraphy of overlapping structures that in 2022 led to the recognition of a krene in the lowest levels, the making of could be framed as part of the Teron construction activity. The importance of the discovery stands in the fact that at the complex water management system, consisting of galleries, hypogea and fine catchment systems, only a monumental fountain is known until now in the entire extention of the ancient city at the so-called Santuario Rupestre in S. Biagio. The achievements, moreover, are fueling a renewed interest in issues related to the water archaeology and particularly how it was experienced in daily life even in the urban and social organization of ancient cities.

La Valle dopo gli antichi. La campagna di scavi del 2019. Parte I

Authors: V. Caminneci, L. Piepoli, G. Scicolone

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We present some archaeological investigations carried out in Agrigento on Summer 2019, within the project entitled “The Valley after the ancients”. The aim is to reconstruct the post-antique phases of the Valley of the Temples, including the most recent history until the public opening of the cultural site. The digs have been carried out in some points selected in order to achieve the diachronic investigation. Following an interdisciplinary research, through the indirect sources as well as the archaeological ones, a careful review of the known data has been accompanied by the study of archive documents and especially of the old photographs, which portrayed the lost landscape of the Valley of the Temples.

La tarda antichità nell’entroterra occidentale di Agrigento. Una proposta di lettura dell’assetto insediativo a partire dal Sistema Informativo Territoriale (SIT)

Autore: A. Pensallorto

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The digitalisation and the analysis of data coming from the rural settlement of the western hinterland of Agrigento, show that settlement pattern is characterized by typical phenomena for the Late Antiquity: the exponential increase in the number of sites and their tendency to create system. This is particularly clear in those sectors with a greatest agricultural potential within the whole territory, such as the areas of Siculiana, Eraclea Minoa and Raffadali. The development of these large rural districts may be read as the symptom of a deep change in the ways and in the places of agricultural production. This phenomenon can be related to the socio-economic changes that were progressively triggered by the foundation of Constantinople and the conquest of Africa by Vandals.

Per un contributo al tema delle trasformazioni post-classiche dei grandi templi di Agrigento: il Tempio A e il suo sacello

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The shrine inside the cella of the temple A of Agrigento, generically assigned to the Roman age, is a structure largely ignored by the modern scientific literature. It belongs with the deep transformations which, since the First Punic War, have concerned some of the great temples of Agrigento, from the so-called Olympieion to the temple A. The article illustrates a history of the investigations on the shrine, outlining the main issues which emerged, such as its dating or the typological problem, settled by the division into three parts of the end of the naos. Other important questions are to be added, such as the reconstruction of the worship practices connected with the small building, their relationship with the surviving structures of temple A. As a contribute to the interpretation of the whole area around the so-called lower agorà on the eve of the Roman siege of the city, the article identifies a reuse of the temple A within the fortification built in a state of emergency in 255-254 b.C. in order to defend the natural passage at the South-West part of the city, and links it to the similar and already known use of the Olympieion. This occasion probably constitutes a terminus post quem for the construction of the shrine and the reorganisation of the worship, while it is possible to identify a terminus ante quem in the statue of Asclepius of Augustan age, found in one of the two rooms flanking the naiskos.

La conservazione dei monumenti antichi in Sicilia. Il caso del de-restauro della fontana arcaica di Agrigento

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santoroNotwithstanding a centuries-long tradition of conservation in Italy, the principal cause of degradation of Greek and Roman buildings is found principally in the lack of a standardised intervention methodology and in the use of inappropriate building materials, incompatible with the tectonics of the original building. In effect, from the 1920s until recently, restoration interventions with steel reinforcement bars and epoxy resins to buildings made originally of stone seem to have been carried out on the principal archaeological monuments throughout the Mediterranean area causing similar structural and formal damage, which is sometimes irreversible. The Italian position, different from the Greek one, even with increasingly frequent architectural emergencies, including building collapses, seems to offer only a glaring lack of preparation in methodology, procedure and technique in the proposing of solutions or long-term intervention programmes. Instead, there are temporary interventions, such as protective coverings or support scaffolding which, remaining in situ beyond their capacity for protection, have worsened the conservation status of the building, as has recently happened for the archaic fountain in Akragas. The partial de-restoration of the fountain reported in this paper is part of a critical close examination of the history of its restorations since its discovery, which has confirmed that inexact analyses and a succession of ineffective interventions have damaged the entire architectural setup, whose typological characteristics of construction require a full and definitive intervention.

La Fontana Arcaica di S. Biagio

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finoThis paper aims to provide the first results of a new autoptical analysis on the structures of the archaic fountain in Agrigento, known as the Santuario rupestre of S. Biagio. The monumental system, located just outside the city-walls, on the north-eastern slopes of the Rupe Atenea, behind a rock face in which is developed an anthropic cave system, is made up mainly of two parts: the building of the western basins and, forehead to the east, a fenced yard. After the first investigations directed by Pirro Marconi in 1926, Giuseppe Cultrera, in 1932, unearthed the whole monumental complex. Since the discovery, the monument was subjected to several restoration works, some of which quite invasive, that determined a difficult reading of the architectural structure in its landscape. A new analysis on the structures has been done, in order to specify the architectural configuration during the life phases of the monument and to retrace the natural and anthropical processes that affected the site since its foundation. Moreover, it has been suggested a datation within the Hellenistic period, providing comparisons with the eastern Mediterranean world.

Archeologia e rischio sismico

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dagostinoSome Italian MIBAC (Italian Minister for cultural heritage) memoranda apply to the archaeological sites the same seismic rules used for buildings. That appears incorrect because the state of ruin is subject to a quite different use, but also has the peculiar needs of conservation. Starting from the idea that the “archaeological built heritage” has an artistic or monumental standing and it may also represent a simple attestation of aspects of human activity in the past, this paper suggests a different cultural attitude aimed to simultaneously respect the safety of visitors and avoid actions disrespectful of the material history of the ancient built.