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Camarina (RG)

Paliké – Rocchicella di Mineo (CT)

 

The archaeological site of Palikč is located in Margi River valley, in the area of Rocchicella of Mineo (CT). Its localization, on a buttress of basalt near Palagonia, and its topographic position has given to it an exceptional strategic importance. The valley is, in fact, the place of junction of two important routes of antiquity: on one hand that from the plain of Catania, through the reascending of the rivers Simeto, Dittaino and Margi once navigable, came up to Gela, from the other hand, the way that from the coast of Syracuse came up to Enna.

The height of Rocchicella controls the main roads and intersections of these lines, which explains why it has been occupied since ancient times. In the nearby lakes, now no more visible -due to the transformation and reclamation of the Plain of Catania largely initiated in 1940 - but known since ancient times for the craters “bubbling”, the presence of carbon dioxide produced subvolcanic phenomena (high jets of water) traced to the presence of divine entities. It is, in fact, of the Mofeta of Palici, the largest wet mofeta in Europe [1], known as “lakes of Naftia” - from the greek naphthia (bitumen) - for the presence of oily substances on the surface swept by the gas during the ascent along the interstices.

The Rocchicella hill, about 200 meters high, composed primarily of volcanic deposits, and together with the near area, is rich in flora species including: Olivastro the Bagolaro, the Ingrassabue (Chrysanthemum segetum), the viper Grass, Calendula, milk thistle, etc..

The site has a long history of occupation that began in the Mesolithic (7000 BC) and has further important during the Middle Neolithic period (fifth millennium), the Copper Age (III millennium), the early Bronze Age (second millennium) and especially in the classical period.

From the seventh century BC, in fact, the volcanic lakes of Palici became a place of worship, local deities corresponding to the Dioscuri, where a sanctuary was built, which would soon become one of the main places of worship in Sicily, consisting of a hestiaterion (that is, a banquet room) and two stoai (long rooms with porticos), which were reused until the Roman period (third century AD) and then abandoned.

The site of Rocchicella with his rock and his huge cavern, still has an evocative powerful, as well as a great symbolic value for landscape, both for being the place of the revolt of the Sicilian Ducezio against the Greeks, and also because the excavations in prehistoric levels. Infact, in the main monumental remains of the classical period, it provide significant evidence for the knowledge of the ancient landscape.

 

1. from Aristide Tomasino, in (http://amedit.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/il-vulcanismo-ibleo-rocchicella-–-mofeta-dei-palici/) The term “mofeta” derives from the Latin “unhealthy smell” and it shows a volcanic event-related slow cooling of a magma reservoir exhausted, in which the gas (carbon dioxide) rises through the interstices of the ground water causing turbulent events.

 

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