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Successive settlements on a mountain that rises ca. 8 km E of Caltanissetta and controls the pass in the valley of the river Salso (fl. Himera). Because of this strategic position, Sabucina was occupied by prehistoric settlements and by a Sikel-Greek fort on the S slope of the mountain. This sequence is attested also on Mt. Capodarso, opposite Sabucina, on the other side of the river.

Recently Sabucina has been the object of several campaigns of excavation, which are uncovering the remains of the successive settlements. At the foot of the mountain, in the area called “lower Sabucina,” are the necropoleis of the Early Bronze Age with characteristic oven-shaped, rock-cut graves. At the end of the Bronze Age, between the 12th and the 10th c. B.C., a large new settlement was established at a higher level on the mountain; it was formed by rows of sturdy circular stone huts that can still be seen in ruin in the next habitation level of the Greek period. These huts contained great quantities of vases in the style called North Pantalica, molds for the manufacture of bronze weapons, and a single kiln. This village was destroyed at an undetermined date and was replaced in the 8th-7th c. B.C. by a new indigenous center with large rectangular houses comprising several rooms. In these houses and in the grotto-tombs of the same period, local material has been found together with large quantities of Protocorinthian, Geloan, and imitation Greek pottery, which document the first contacts with Gela's colonists. About the middle of the 6th c. the habitation area was smaller and the site became a typical phrourion of Greek type, with walls blocking the S side of the slope, the only access to the houses. The necropoleis developed at the same time, with cist and sarcophagus graves filled with Greek vases, especially bronze vessels and Attic red- and black-figure pottery. The dwellings were rectangular with two or three rooms. Quite likely this thorough transformation of the site was caused by actual occupation by Geloan or Akragan Greeks. Only some decorative elements remain from the religious structures of this phase, in particular some fine polychrome antefixes in the shape of a Gorgon, similar to those found at Morgantina. The existence of sacred buildings is further documented by an unusual terracotta model of a shrine, with acroteria and antefixes.

This Greek center was violently destroyed shortly before the middle of the 5th c. B.C., probably during the Sicilian revolt led by Ducetius. It was rebuilt in the second half of the 5th c., and to this phase must belong most of the ruins at present uncovered, including the new circuit of fortifications with a fine series of rectangular and semicircular towers, two postern gates, and a main entrance. Houses were crowded behind the walls, with courtyards and empty spaces left for defensive purposes. The city, abandoned at the end of the 5th c. B.C., was rebuilt in the time of Timoleon. Like the neighboring centers of Capodarso, Vassallaggi, and Gibil Gabib, it was completely destroyed around 311-310 B.C., probably by Agathokles, tyrant of Syracuse. Habitation of the site was resumed only during the Roman Imperial period; a few graves and ruins of farmhouses have been found, especially in the lower area, well supplied with water. All the material from the new excavations at Sabucina is in the Archaeological Museum of Caltanissetta.


D. Adamesteanu, RA 49 (1957) 173; P. Orlandini, Kokalos 8 (1962) 10ff; id., “Sabucina,” ArchCl 15 (1963) 86ff; 17 (1965) 133ff; 20 (1968) 151ff; id., RendLinc (1965) 457ff.


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