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AEOLIAE INSULAE (Lipari Islands) Messina, Sicily.

The peaks of the volcanic range of which Vesuvius and Aetna are a part form this archipelago off Cape of Milazzo in NE Sicily. Greek and Roman tombs have been located at various points on Filicudi; Salina has produced Roman house walls and Greek and Latin inscriptions; a Roman habitation with a hypogeum, traces of wall painting and mosaics is located on Basiluzzo, while Stromboli, famous in antiquity, has yielded millstones and Roman tombs. Of the entire group, Lipari (ancient Lipara) is of the greatest importance archaeologically.

Pentathlos' Knidians arrived at Lipara in 580 B.C. and settled on the site of the modern village in the area now known as Castello or la Cittade. The colony waged a successful struggle against the Etruscans for control of the Tyrrhenian Sea. During the intervention of Athens in the affairs of the West in 427 B.C., Lipara was allied with Syracuse and withstood the assault of a combined force of Athenians and Rhegines. Carthaginian forces succeeded in holding the site briefly during their struggles with Dionysios I in 394, but once they were gone the polis entered a three-way alliance which included Dionysios' new colony at Tyndaris. Lipara prospered, but in 304 Agathokles took the town by treachery and is said to have lost 50 talents worth of pillage from it in a storm at sea. Lipara became a Carthaginian naval base during the first Punic war, but fell to C. Aurelius in 252-251, and again to Agrippa in Octavian's campaign against S. Pompeius. Under the Empire, it was a place of retreat, baths, and exile.

The excavation of Graeco-Roman Lipara is complicated by the existence of the modern town over the ancient site. The discovery of the necropolis at the outskirts of the town indicates that the ancient and modern settlements are coterminous. During excavation a sanctuary to Demeter and Persephone was discovered on the ancient road leading to the necropolis. The sanctuary, which consisted of an altar open to the sky within a temenos, has produced a well-dated series of ex voto dating from the 4th c. to the Roman capture. Near the Comune, portions of the Greek defense wall of the 4th-3d c. are still visible. At the site of the museum, the Castello, the construction of the square in front of the cathedral at the beginning of this century destroyed all archaeological evidence over a large part of the acropolis, but what remains shows a “tell deposit” 9 m deep from the Neolithic to the present. Excavation has traced the Graeco-Roman street grid and has uncovered house remains. The Hellenistic and Roman remains rest on the prehistoric strata.

There are important collections from Lipari at Palermo, Cefalu, Syracuse, Glasgow, and Oxford, in addition to the Aeolian Museum at Lipari.


A. Mezquirez de Irujo, “Ceramica ibérica en Lípari,” Archivo Espanol de Arqueologia 28 (1955) 112; L. Bernabò Brea, “Lipari nel IV sec. a. C.,” Kokalos 4 (1958) 119ff; id. & M. Cavalier, Il Castello di Lipari e il Museo Archeologico Aeoliano (1958) with bibliography; idd., Meligunìs-Lipára II: La Necropoli Greca e Romana nella Contrada Diana (1965); idd., “Lipari—la zona archeologica del Castello,” BA 5, 50 (1965) 202-5; L. Zagami, Le Monete di Lipara (1959); TCI Guida d'ltalia: Sicilia (1968) 444-80; A. D. Trendall & T.B.L. Webster, “The Stevenson Collection from Lipari,” Scottish Art Review 12, 1 (1969) 1-7 (serialized).


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