Naxos of Sicily: the first Greek settlement
- Lentini Maria Costanza
Naxos, the first Greek foundation in Sicily, lies south of Taormina, on Sicily’s eastern seaboard. Extensive investigations of the levels of the first Greek colonial settlement on the site have only recently begun, and are still in progress. This settlement seems to have occupied the eastern area of the Schiso peninsula, in close contact with the bay and the harbour. The Late Geometric evidence (especially pottery) seems to be mainly concentrated in this area, where exploration has recently been resumed. The well-preserved remains of the archaic settlement have been uncovered below the main fifth-century road, directly overlaid by its beaten-earth surface. So far eight houses of the late eighth century BC have been discovered, two apparently complete. The ceramic evidence fixes the construction of the houses in the final decades of the eighth century BC. : Late Geometric II Corinthian wares, especially Thapsos cups, in association with abundant pottery of Euboean-Cycladic type. The houses generally consist of a single room. All the houses so far excavated have the same east-west alignment which must have regulated the subdivision of the urban site into building lots (oikopeda). In the light of the evidence so far recovered, these lots would seem not to have been all of the same size. The house plans are equally heterogeneous: square and rectangular. The definition of three streets has enabled us to define also the width of an insula As far as the organization of space in the first settlement is concerned, housing density seems to have been relatively high. Excavation in depth by a crossroads of the archaic streets has revealed curvilinear walls of earlier huts with associated pottery dating from the period of the colony’s foundation: traces of a Sicel village or the really first settlers’ huts? There are good grounds for supposing that this first settlement was surrounded, at least in part, by fortifications, incorporating remains of a mid-to-late Bronze Age fortification near the Castle of Schiso, just to the north of the group of houses described above. It was on this side that the settlement was particularly vulnerable: it was easily accessible both from the hinterland and from the harbour.
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