On a promontory ca.
20 km SW of Ragusa, a colony founded by Syracuse in
598 B.C. (Thuc. 6.5
). It was at the limit of the Syracusan
territorial expansion, near the territory of Gela and under
its influence. The history of the city is associated with
that of Syracuse and of Gela, but in its affairs one finds
numerous attempts at independence from both cities.
During its early years the city established with the Sikels
a peaceful rapport which, according to Philistus,
amounted to a true alliance. The Sikel settlements were
on the Dirillo plain and in the Iblei mountains. The city,
destroyed in 553 by the Syracusans, was rebuilt by Hippokrates of Gela in 492. It was destroyed a second time
by parties from Gela in 484 and again rebuilt by Gela
in 461 B.C. With its power consolidated, the city's influence grew over a radius so great that even the city of
Morgantina was allotted to it in the agreements with
Gela in 424 B.C.
Allied with the Chalkidian city of Leontinoi and therefore with Athens, Kamarina was abandoned by Syracuse
in 405 B.C. to the Carthaginians, who must have destroyed
its fortifications. In 396 B.C. its citizens returned to it, but
only under Timoleon in 339 B.C. was the city completely
reconstructed. A period of splendor ended with the sack
by the Mamertines in 275 B.C. and destruction by the Romans in 258 B.C. The survival of several sectors in the 2d
and 1st c. B.C. has been verified by the discovery of the
House of the Altar, documented by several inscriptions.
Probably during the period of Augustus the site was
abandoned. The only building still standing in the area
is a small church with a cemetery built into the Temple
of Athena at the center of the ancient city, on the summit
of the hill.
Exploration of the necropoleis was begun at the end of
the last century, but the habitation area has been the object of systematic excavation only for the last ten years.
The city walls, 7 km in length, enclosed an area of ca.
200 ha. The urban plan is of the grid type advocated by
Hippodamos, with streets that intersect at right angles
and delimit blocks 35 m square. It is probable that three
principal arteries about 10.7 m wide crossed the city longitudinally from E to W, cut orthogonally by numerous
parallel streets 5 m wide running N-S. This grid of streets
ignores the uneven terrain, which varies in level by as
much as 50 m, although in the time of Timoleon almost
the entire urban area was occupied by buildings.
Walls belonging to buildings from the archaic age have
been identified in the W area of the city and show the
same orientation as the buildings from the age of Timoleon. Groups of city blocks have been discovered from
this phase in the SE zone. These include the House of
the Merchant and the House of the Inscription. In the
latter has been found the contract for the purchase of a
house, inscribed in Greek on lead. It gives information
about the organization of the citizens, who appear to have
been subdivided into classes or tribes, and it alludes to a
Sanctuary of Persephone in the neighborhood.
A stretch of cella wall of the Temple of Athena, exposed from ancient times to the present, is recognizable
in the drawings of 18th c. travelers. A cella in antis,
without peristasis, it dates to the 5th c. B.C. and is situated
on the highest point on the promontory (ca. 55 m). Recent excavations have uncovered a conspicuous stretch of
the walls on the S side near the Oanis river (Rifriscolaro).
It is faced with crude bricks of the type used in the walls
at Gela. The use of crude bricks at Kamarina appears
to be confirmed by the sources (scholia to Pind. Ol
Extensive necropoleis surround the city on three sides.
To the N the necropoleis of Scoglitti date to archaic and
Classical times; to the E the necropoleis of Rifriscolaro,
Dieci Saline, and Piombo date from the archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods; to the S is the necropolis of
Passo Marinaro, in which kraters from the 5th c. B.C.
have been found, and the necropoleis of Cozzo Campisi
and Randello from the Classical and Hellenistic times.
Of the more than 2500 tombs systematically excavated
to date 500 are at Passo Marinaro and 480 at Rifriscolaro.
The tombs in the latter necropolis largely date from the
first 30 years of the 6th c. B.C. and contain much mid
Corinthian material. They may be attributed to the first
generation of Syracusan colonists.
A deposit of fictile figurines and molds has been found
outside the city near the Hipparis river near several kilns
that constitute a quarter of vase-makers and modelers active in the 5th and 4th c. B.C. The figurine types reveal
contact with the production at Gela. Representations of
Demeter with the piglet are common (there was certainly
a sanctuary to Demeter near the Ganis), Artemis on the
stag, and Athena Ergane. The last has been found previously in Sicily only at Scornavacche, an anonymous habitation site nearby.
The earliest in the series of coins from Kamarina dates
from ca. 461 B.C. Among the master die cutters was
The material from the site is displayed in the museums
at Syracuse, Ragusa, and in the Antiquarium near the
Temple of Athena at Kamarina.
G. Schubring in Philologus
490ff; P. Orsi in Mon. Ant. Lincei
9 (1899) col. 201ff;
14 (1904) col. 783ff; B. Pace, Camarina
(1927); T. J.
Dunbabin, The Western Greeks
(1948) 105ff; A. Di Vita
(1959) 347ff; P. Orsi, ed. P. Pelagatti, in Arch.
., 12 (1966) 120ff; J. Brunel in Rev. Et. Anc
(1971) 327ff; P. Pelagatti in BdA
(1962) 251ff; id., in
14-15 (1968-69) 353ff; 18 (1972) (Atti III
Congresso Sicilia Antica).