(Punta di Schisò) Sicily.
colony founded by the Greeks in Sicily, in 734-33 B.C.
according to Thucydides (6.3
). The site, in the district
of Giardini, is on a level area of lava flow from the Moio
volcano between the mouth of the Santa Venera stream
(SW) and a small bay NE which was favorable as a
landing. The area, closed in by the ridges of Monte
Tauro, where Taormina is situated, is ca. 1 km from the
Alcantara river, which must have constituted the only
important means of communication with the inland areas.
The site appears to have been inhabited from prehistoric times. Remains of neolithic huts have been isolated
as has a flourishing settlement of the Bronze Age (with
pottery in the style of Thapsos). For the period immediately preceding colonization, traces of the presence of
the Sikels have been found who, according to Strabo,
were in the area when the Greeks arrived. The founders
of Naxos were primarily Chalkidians, but Ionians were
also involved, and their leader was Thoukles.
Notices regarding life in the colony in the 7th and
6th c. B.C. are sparse. The only notable episode in this
period is the foundation of Kallipolis. At the beginning
of the 5th c. B.C., Naxos, together with other Chalkidian
cities, was attacked by Hippokrates of Gela and the citizens expelled. Only after 460 B.C. did life in the city
begin again. In the war between Syracuse and Athens,
Naxos was on the side of Athens. Some years after the
defeat of Athens, Dionysios of Syracuse took the city
(404-403 B.C.) through a ruse, according to Polyainos
(5.2.5), destroyed it, and gave its territory to the Sikels,
while the citizenry was dispersed (Diod. 14.87
). In the
second half of the 4th c. B.C., a new city arose over the
destroyed one and coined its own money. Recently, some
of its tombs have been discovered. A small nucleus of
homes must have survived around the bay down to the
Roman and Byzantine periods.
In addition to large sections of the perimeter of the
walls, excavations have brought to light elements of the
urban plan from the archaic and Classical periods. To
date, two phases have been recognized: one dating to
the 7th-6th c., and the second corresponding to the reconstruction of 460 B.C. There is particular interest in the first phase of the settlement for the study of Greek city planning, since it is part of a colonial foundation
which precedes the work of Hippodamos of Miletos.
Some quarters have been partially explored including the
N sector, a group of dwellings N of the W sacred precinct, and the E sector.
The sacred precinct in the extreme SW corner of the
city near the Santa Venera has been uncovered almost
entirely. This is perhaps the temenos epithalassion of
Aphrodite mentioned by our sources (App. Bell. Civ
5.109). There is also a trapezoidal enclosure built in
two periods (between the end of the 7th c. and the middle of the 6th c. B.C.). It contains the foundations of two
buildings: Temple A, the oldest (about 600 B.C.) and
Temple B (525 B.C.). There are also a square altar with
three steps and two kilns for architectural terracottas and
pottery of the same date as Temple A.
The walls which enclose the temenos are imposing and
were constructed of lava rock of quite accurate polygonal workmanship, comparable to the walls at Delphi
and at Smyrna. They constitute one of the the most interesting examples of such workmanship in the W Mediterranean area. That technique, in fact, is rarely encountered in this area in the archaic period (cf. the
examples at Velia and at Lipari).
To the two sacred buildings have been attributed two
architectural terracotta friezes of which numerous examples are extant collected in a storeroom near the N wall
of the temenos (wall E). The most recent series, belonging to Temple B, is composed of simas and chests with molded and painted decorations. There is a frieze of lotus and palm leaves, evidently based on Ionic models.
The series of Silenos antefixes must have adorned
smaller buildings and are of various types, from one
very old example with a counterpart in Samian models
dating to the second half of the 6th c. to more recent
ones from the mid 5th c. B.C. The materials found in
the sacred precinct comprise terracotta figurines (usually
standing female figures with a dove or flower on the
breast), various types of pottery, and numerous spear and
sword points. These materials were found deposited in
trenches or in thysiai, together with the bones of sacrificed animals, often near stones which were set upright and used as stelai. These thysiai were set out around the altar.
The potters' quarter has been extensively explored. It
was situated on the edge of the city, in the N sector in
the vicinity of Colle Salluzzo. There is also a complex
of three kilns, two circular and one square, which were
active in the 6th and 5th c. B.C. Remains of buildings
have been brought to light which were used for the working of pottery and as depositories for equipment, among
which the molds for Sileni antefixes and for figurines
have been discovered. The site of the altar of Apollo
Archagetes is not known, but it was nearby that the
Greeks united before their expeditions and, according to
), it was outside the city.
In the necropolis a group of tombs dating to the 6th-5th c. B.C. have been recovered W of the Santa Venera,
ca. 600 m from the river, while 4th c. tombs have come
to light in the immediate environs of the river as well
as over the slopes of the hill on which the modern cemetery is located.
The renowned coinage of Naxos (6th-5th c. B.C.)
shows consistently the head of a bearded Dionysos in
profile, crowned with ivy and grape clusters hanging
from vine shoots. Later, other subjects were substituted,
such as the crouching Silenos raising a kantharos on
Naxos produced pottery of distinctive character particularly in the 8th c. and 7th c. B.C. It is distinguished
from the other Sicilian shops (those at Syracuse and at
Megara Hyblaia) by decorative motifs which nearly always recall the influence of Euboean-Cycladic pottery.
The initial dig in the archaeological zone has already
been opened to the public and the site will, as time goes
on, extend over a large part of the city. Today, it includes the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, the W stretch of the
city walls, and the quarter of the vase makers in the
district of Salluzzo. An Antiquarium situated on Punta di
Schisò is now being built.
P. Rizzo, Naxos siceliota
Cahn, Die Münzen der sizilischen Stadt Naxos
G. V. Gentili, “Naxos alla luce dei primi scavi,” BdA
(1956) 326ff; P. Pelagatti in Cronache di Archeologia
e Storia dell'Arte
4 (1965) 326ff; id., in Kokalos
(1968-69) 350ff; id., “Relazione preliminare della campagne di scavo 1961-64,” BdA
(1964) 326ff; id., “Naxos
II, ricerche topografiche e scavi 1965-70,” BdA