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Beyond Sicily's Temples

The Greek and Roman city of Agrigento on Sicily's southern coast is best known for its spectacular temples to a vast array of gods and demigods. But since the 1950s, excavators have also worked to uncover a densely populated residential section inhabited from the third century B.C. to through the fifth and sixth centuries A.D., a timespan covering the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. This region was divided into three neighborhoods, called insulas, and contains at least 30 houses. In 2014, a team of archaeologists led by Maria Concetta Parello began a large project in Agrigento during which she uncovered not only the site’s ancient theater, but also a new insula as well.

  • A view of the newly discovered Insula IV of the Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento. At the center of the insula excavators have uncovered a fourth-century A.D. bath complex.
  • In addition to the architectural remains, the new excavations in the residential quarter have also uncovered personal items such as this carved carnelian gemstone depicting a winged figure.
  • A terracotta decoration from Insula IV depicts a battle featuring centaurs, the half-man, half-horse mythological figures of Greco-Roman mythology.
  •  Excavators found a sixth-century A.D. skeleton in one of the bath complexes’ pools, evidence of the site’s continued occupation after the Roman period and reuse of its major structures.

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