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.