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KOSSURA (Pantelleria) Trapani, Sicily.

A volcanic island 110 km SW of Sicily and 70 km from Africa. The island has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, from which there are remains of a village and of a fortification wall in the district of Mursia, as well as dome-like constructions with rubble walls called sesi, which were used as graves.

Within the historical period, beginning with the earliest phases of Phoenician colonization within the W Mediterranean, the island was probably reached by Phoenician traders. Even at a later time (4th c. B.C.) Pseudo-Skylax (Müller, 1885, ø 111) mentions the island to relate that it was one navigation day away from Lilybaion. Until the middle of the 3d c. B.C. it remained within the Carthaginian sphere. It was occupied for the first time by the Romans in 254 B.C. (Zonar. 8.14), perhaps only briefly, but in 217 B.C. the island was seized by the Romans (Polyb. 3.96). However, Punic culture survived on the island until at least the 2d-1st c. B.C., as attested by coins bearing a Punic legend. The island was still fortified as late as the 1st c. A.D. Pliny the Elder (5.7) describes it as “Cossura cum oppido,” and Roman presence, even if only for strategic reasons, is attested in the island by remains of structures with mosaic floors datable to the late Imperial period.

The archaeological remains from the historical period of the island consist primarily of some stretches of the wall in the areas of Santa Theresa and San Marco, where the acropolis was most likely located, but nothing permits attribution of these walls to the Punic period. There are, however, some terracotta female heads and busts of Punic type with a klaft hairstyle or fillet, which are reported to have been found at Bagno dell'Acqua where there was once a sanctuary of Punic type. An early Corinthian aryballos was found there, datable to the 6th c. B.C. A few other items from the Punic period (jewelry, necklaces, coins) provide archaeological evidence for a long Phoenician-Punic cultural phase within the island, but at the same time they strongly suggest that Punic penetration was somewhat limited.


P. Orsi, “Pantelleria,”MonAnt 9 (1889)MPI; A. Verger, “Pantelleria nell'antichità,” Oriens Antiquus 5.2 (1966) 249ffMPI; C. Tozzi, “Relazione preliminare sulla I e II campagna di scavi effettuate a Pantelleria,” Rivista Scienze Preistoriche 23.2 (1968) 3 15ffI; A. M. Bisi, “In margine ad alcune terrecotte puniche arcaiche di Pantelleria,” Sicilia Archeologica 10 (1970) 17ffI.


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