of the ancient city on the S coast of Sicily, between Agrigento and Selinus, on the plateau dominating Capo Bianco, at the mouth of the river Platani (fl. Halykos).
Minoa is the earlier component in the city's double
name; the name Herakleia was probably added in the
second half of the 4th c. B.C. when the city appears to
have been repopulated by colonists from Kephaloidion
(Cefalù). Ancient authors connected the name Minoa
with Minos, and this name may go back to an Early
Minoan settlement, of which however no archaeological
evidence has as yet been found. During the second half
of the 6th c. B.C. Minoa was violently disputed between
Selinus, of which it formed the E outpost, and Akragas,
which wanted to invade the valley of the Platani river.
The city was also briefly occupied by Spartan exiles who
took part in the abortive expedition of Dorieus to Sicily
(Herod. 5.46). During the whole of the 5th c. B.C. Minoa
remained under Akragan control. After 406 B.C. and until
the Roman conquest at the end of the second Punic war
(210 B.C.) Minoa was under Carthaginian domination,
with the exception of brief and sporadic periods of freedom between Timoleon's time and Pyrrhos' expedition
(339-277 B.C.). After becoming civitas decumana, the
city was destroyed during the first Servile war and was
recolonized by the consul Rupilius. It also suffered from
Verres' abuses and was visited by Cicero (Verr
129). At the end of the 1st c. B.C. the city seems to have
been completely abandoned.
Excavations have not yet revealed positive traces of
the archaic city, which must have occupied the E part
of the plateau. However a necropolis of the second half
of the 6th c. B.C. has been partially brought to light
near the mouth of the Platani river. The present remains
belong to the Hellenistic-Roman period. The fortification
wall has been cleared along the N limit of the city. It
is built of chalky stone with sun-dried brick superstructures and is reinforced by square towers with gates and
posterns. The most imposing stretch is seen where a
powerful wall of masonry and mud brick extends between a square bastion and a round tower that was
probably added during the 3d c. B.C. Here the fortifications stop at the edge of the great landslide into the
sea which, through the centuries, has eroded a great part
of the town. A second fortification wall was rebuilt
twice and lies now in the interior of the city, near the
theater and along the houses. It represents a narrowing
of the urban area during the Punic and Servile wars.
The theater, recently cleared and protected with plastic
material, dates from the end of the 4th c. B.C. Its cavea
is oriented to the S and divided into nine sectors (kerkides); it retains ten rows of seats in friable marly stone.
Both the orchestra and the strong retaining walls of the
cavea (analemmata) are well preserved. Nothing remains of the stage building except the holes for a wooden
platform; some Roman buildings were erected against
the orchestra. The foundations of a temple and a shrine
have been excavated to the N of the theater. To the S
excavations have uncovered parts of the Roman habitation quarter during the Republican period, in two superimposed layers. The upper stratum must be connected
with Rupilius' recolonization. The lower level (3d-2d
c. B.C.) retains two particularly notable and well-preserved houses on parallel streets, with square plan and
rooms gathered around a central atrium. One of the
houses had two stories; its high mud brick walls and
floors are well preserved. The second house
still retains its lararium with altar and walls painted in
incrustation style (First Pompeian Style).
A small antiquarium in the archaeological area houses
part of the excavation finds and attempts to reconstruct
and illustrate the various phases of the city's life. The
remainder of the archaeological material from the site
is displayed in the National Museum of Agrigento.
B. Pace, Arte e artisti della Sicilia antica
(1917) 25ff, with previous bibliography; G. Caputo,
(1930) 86ff; id., La parola del passato
439ff; P. Griffo, Bilancio di cinque anni di scavi nelle
province di Agrigento e Caltanissetta
(1954) 14ff; G.
3 (1957) 25ff; id., X Congress of International Society of Photogrammetry
(1964) 16; E.
De Miro, NSc
(1955) 262ff; (1958) 232ff; id., Kokalos
4 (1958) 69; 8 (1962) 144; id., L'antiquarium e la zona
archeologica di Eraclea Minoa