Huge Greek necropolis unearthed in Sicily

Archaeologists have long known that there was a burial ground in the ancient city of Himera, but they had no idea until recent construction in the area how gigantic it actually is.

“The necropolis is of an extraordinary beauty and notable dimensions,” Sicily’s regional councillor for culture, Antonello Antinoro, said Tuesday.

”Preliminary estimates indicate the presence of around 10,000 tombs, which gives the site a good claim to being one of the most important discoveries of recent years,” he said.

Among the most exciting finds are skeletons of newborn babies placed inside funerary amphorae along with the ancient version of babies’ beakers – small terracotta vases equipped with spouts to function as feeding bottles.

The tombs date from between the 6th and 5th c. B.C., and many contain skeletons that show signs of having seen the bad end of a battle or two. Some even have arrows still attached to them.

Himera was the site of two major battles with Carthage. The second battle in 409 B.C. ended up with Carthago doing the delendaing, which might explain why they needed a 10,000-tomb necropolis.


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Comment by Hans
2008-11-14 12:14:38

It sure looks like Sicily was pretty heavily populated in the fifth and sixth century BC to have a cemetary of that size.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-11-14 12:16:50

Oh for sure. It was a major Greek colony, which is why you can find some of the best preserved ancient Greek architecture in the world on the island.

Comment by jill dipippo
2008-11-16 11:38:53

My husband and I just bought a villa in Caccamo Sicily, about 10 minutes from T.Immerse which is where the necropolis sits.
Even though Sicily has 12% unemployment, it is one of the most incredible places we have ever seen. There is so much to see and do, it will take us a lifetime to explore this rich culture.
I have travelled extensively through the middle east, work in Kuwait and been through europe.

Comment by Clutch
2008-11-17 08:22:54


But you’ve inspired me to move Sicily upward to the List of Places I Must Go. (It was already on the list, thanks in part to Tom Holt’s The Walled Orchard.)

Comment by livius drusus
2008-11-17 08:32:42

How wonderful! Despite having lived in Italy (mainly Rome) for 18 years, I only went to Sicily once, and most of that time was spent on Sigonella air base playing volleyball. :blush:

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