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MENAI later MENAINON (Mineo) Catania, Sicily.

In the W foothills of the Hyblaei Mountains, an archaic settlement on a high peak that dominates from the E the valley of the river of Caltagirone or of the Margi. This settlement belonged to the indigenous culture of Licodia Eubea (6th c. B.C.). The city, under the name of Menai, flourished especially during the 5th c. B.C. when, in 459 (Diod. 11.78.5) it was refounded by the leader Ducetius, who was a native of the place. In 453 B.C. its inhabitants were moved to the nearby center of Paliké near the well-known sanctuary of the Palici (Diod. 11.88.6). No traces of life survive between the second half of the 5th c. B.C. and the end of the 4th c. B.C. The city, under the name of Menainon, began once more to flourish in the Hellenistic period, as attested by its rich necropoleis. After the Roman conquest the city minted its own coinage. Its existence during the Roman period is attested by Cicero (Verr. 3.22.55; 3.43.102) and Pliny (HN 3.91). The site continued to be inhabited until the Arab Conquest and again during the following centuries.

The archaic settlement is evidenced by an agger wall with a pottery dump of the culture of Licodia Eubea, which has been uncovered next to the ruins of the mediaeval castle, and by some archaic graves found in the districts of Pietre Nere and St. Ippolito. Necropoleis of the end of the 4th c. B.C. are in the districts of Acquanova and Calvario, of the Hellenistic period (St. Ippolito, Porta Udienza, contrada Pietra Catona and Piano delle Forche) and of the Roman period (St. Ippolito). Within the habitation center the finds consist only of two red-figure lekythoi with painted female heads typical of the end of the 4th c. B.C., and of some archaic and Hellenistic terracottas now in the National Museum of Syracuse. The only architectural monuments preserved within the village, besides the archaic wall, are a nymphaeum datable to the middle of the 3d c. B.C. and a bastion, probably mediaeval, both in the district of St. Agostino. The village is preparing an antiquarium near City Hall. At a distance of 3 km from the village, in the district of Caratabia, there is a pair of rock-cut funerary chambers whose walls are decorated with an incised frieze of riders and deer, attributable to the culture of Licodia Eubea.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

P. Orsi, NSc (1899) 70; (1901) 347; (1903) 438; (1904) 373; (1920) 337; W. Kroll, RE 15.1 (1931); G. V. Gentili, “Fontana-ninfeo di età ellenistica nella zona detta Tomba Gallica,” NSc (1965) 192ff; A. Messina, “Grotta con graffiti nella campagna di Mineo,” Cronache di Archeologia 4 (1965) 30ff; id., “Menai-Menainon ed Eryke-Paliké,” CronArch 6 (1967) 87ff.

A. MESSINA

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