(Eloro) Siracusa, Sicily.
remains at a small city on a low hill near the coast SE
of Noto on the left bank of the river Tellaro. The literary
sources give scanty information on the ancient site,
which was connected to Syracuse by the Helorian Road.
In 493 B.C. Hippokrates defeated the Syracusans on
Helorian territory, and in 263 B.C., by virtue of the
peace treaty between Hieron II and Rome, the city
passed under Syracusan control; it surrendered to Marcellus in 214 B.C.
Two excavation campaigns have brought to light long
sections of the ancient walls, a small temple, and some
Hellenistic houses on the S slope of the modern city,
where part of the theater cavea was also identified.
A Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore has been explored
on the shore immediately to the N of the city, at a short
distance from the fortification walls. The sanctuary
flourished from the archaic to the Hellenistic period and
proved very rich in votive offerings; a complex of rooms
in front contained several bothroi.
In the S section of the urban area, a Sanctuary to
Demeter has been found, dating from the second half
of the 4th c. B.C. In this district, previously residential,
a temple was built. Its stereobate is almost entirely preserved (20 x 10.5 m). Besides the temple, the sanctuary
contained a few rectangular structures for the storage
of votive offerings, a practice attested also in the extramural Koreion mentioned above. In the early 2d c. B.C.
the sacred complex was delimited by a monumental stoa
which has now been completely excavated. It is a long
pi-shaped portico (stoa with paraskenia) with two naves,
Doric columns on facade, and square pillars in the interior. The greatest length of the building is ca. 68 m, the
greatest width, at the center, 7.4 m. It is one of the most
important Hellenistic examples of this type of structure
in Sicily. During the Byzantine period the E side of the
sanctuary was occupied by a basilica with three naves,
apse, and narthex, built with blocks taken from earlier
buildings. The most recent excavations in the area of the
sanctuary have also yielded the earliest documentation
for Greek occupation at Heloros. Stratigraphic tests
have produced (from the archaic levels) Protocorinthian Geometric sherds and remains of house walls of
the early archaic period.
These finds suggest that Heloros was not a relatively
late foundation connected with the Syracusan expansion
within the SE triangle of Sicily, but was instead one of
the first outposts on the coastal zone S of Syracuse, in
an area agriculturally very rich and strategically very
important (the mouth of the Tellaro) especially with regard to the sites defended by the native populations.
Among the important finds of the recent campaigns
are the discovery of the S city gate and the identification of the major traffic artery within the city, which
ran N-S and connected the N gate, already excavated,
with the newly discovered gate.
In Helorian territory, approximately 2.5 km to the W
of the city, some polychrome mosaic floors have recently
been discovered. They probably belong to a Roman Imperial villa, and are in good state of preservation; they
seem of high artistic quality. A section of a vast portico
is paved with a motif of medallions with geometric patterns surrounded by large and elegant laurel wreaths.
The other mosaics belong to rooms opening onto the
portico; the most important shows a banquet scene with
people around a table set under a tent, a well-known
motif which occurs also in the Little Hunt Mosaic of the
Villa near Piazza Armerina. The varied and vivid polychromy, the elegance and richness of the compositons, the
particular efficacy of the figured scenes make these mosaics, dating from the 4th c. A.D., a major discovery for
our knowledge of the late Roman period.
A. Holm, Storia della Sicilia
(1901); P. Orsi, NotSc
(1899) 241-44; B. Pace, Arte e
civiltà della Sicilia antica
, I-III (1953) passim; G. V.
3 (1960) s.v. Eloro; A. Di Vita, “La
penetrazione siracusana nella Sicilia sud-orientale” Kokalos
2 (1956) 9ff; M. T. Curró et al., MonAnt
(1956) cols. 207-340; G. Voza, Kokalos
14-15 (1968-1969) 360-62; id. EAA
s.v. Eloro (supplementary volume in preparation).