About 35 km NW of
Catania, on a strategic mountain ridge of 726 m elevadon. The Sikel town was gradually Hellenized in the 5th
and 4th c. B.C. Ruled intermittently by Greek tyrants
(Aristoxenos, fg. 17 [ed. Wehrli]; Diod. 14.78.7
populace was largely Sikel (Thuc. 6.94.3
; Diod. 13.83.4
At other times, the town belonged to Syracuse, against
whose rule it rebelled repeatedly (Thuc. 6.94.3
[alliance with Athenians]; Diod. 16.82.4
Timoleon]). In 312 B.C., and probably from 304 to 289
B.C., it belonged to Agathokles (Diod. 19.103.2
in 270 to Hieron II (Diod. 22.13.1
). Shortly thereafter,
in 263 B.C., the town submitted to Rome (Diod. 23.4
Elevated to the status of civitas libera atque immunis for
her strategic importance and loyalty in 241 B.C. (Cic.
. 2.3.6 [par. 13]; Sil. Pun
. 14.240), it rose to wealth
and importance; Cicero refers to it once as civitas totius
Siciliae multo maxima et locupletissima (Verr
[par. 50]). But the Verrine exploitation and the war of
Sextus Pompey reduced it to a minor city again. Despite
an Augustan restoration (Strab. 6.272
) and sporadic
periods of reconstruction in the 2d and 3d c. A.D., it sank
to insignificance. An unimportant village throughout the
Byzantine, Arab, and Norman periods, it was partially
destroyed for insubordination by Frederick II in 1232
and completely razed by Charles of Anjou shortly thereafter. Refounded by a count of Adernò in 1548, the modern town occupies the ancient site.
The architectural remains, almost exclusively of
Roman date, are scattered among the slopes and valleys
surrounding the town. Beside extensive remains of ancient
retaining and fortification walls, now incorporated into
modern buildings, the following monuments are of most
interest: 1) The so-called Roman Baths, actually an Imperial nymphaeum, NW of the town; an extensive ruin,
ca. 50 m wide, containing five vaulted apses of unequal
size and orientation, and adjoining rooms to the S. The
building's date is disputed, as there is no inscriptional or
brick-stamp evidence. 2) A Hellenistic house, N of the
town; in size a modest dwelling of the 1st c. B.C., it is of
interest in its unusual floor plan, with short corridors
connecting symmetrically arranged rooms. Remains of
incrustation-style wall decoration are extant in some
rooms, as well as a floor mosaic of geometric motifs.
Two pairs of terracotta satyrs and maenads, now in the
Siracusa Museum, served as atlantes and caryatids in
the house. 3) Remains of smaller, perhaps private, baths
of Imperial date (Acqua Amara, Stalle Antiche) on the
E side of the town. 4) A building, perhaps official, of
Augustan date at the Mulino Barbagallo nearby; an example of representative, ambitious architecture not otherwise preserved in the town, it contains a fine marble floor
and interior colonnade. In the building were found several marbles, including fragments of a colossal Julio-Claudian portrait statue. Numerous dedicatory inscriptions testify to the later use of the building in the 3d c.
A.D. 5) Of interest are the “Dogana,” a reservoir and
fountain house, and a mausoleum (the so-called Castello
di Corradino), both of the 2d c. A.D.
The town is surrounded by seven ancient necropoleis.
Excavations have concentrated on the easternmost (Contrada Casino), in use from the 3d through 1st c. B.C.
Besides the usual burial gifts of unguentaria and coins,
the tombs have yielded substantial amounts of terracotta
figurines of local manufacture, attesting to a flourishing
industry during the 3d and 2d c., and polychromatic nuptial vases of the 3d c. B.C., unique testllflonia to the artistic and social ambitions of the town. The most representative collections of terracottas and vases are now in
the Museo Nazionale of Siracusa.
G. Libertini, Centuripe
(1953) 353-68; P. Griffo, Nuova testa
di Augusto e altre scoperte di epoca Romana fatte a
(1949); G. Rizza, Centuripe, NSc