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KEPHALOIDION (Cefalù) Sicily.

An ancient center midway between Himera and Halaesa on the N shore. In spite of its Greek name, referring to the promontory around which the city presumably developed, the site is not among the Greek colonies in N Sicily mentioned by Thucydides. Its origins and early history are unknown. There is no positive evidence for a Phoenician origin, which seems implied by the legend RSMLKRT on some coins. Diodoros (14.56.2) relates that in 396 B.C. Himilco made an alliance with the inhabitants of the phrourion. After various events (Diod. 14.78.7; 20.56.3; 77.3) the site was conquered by the Romans, through treason, in 254 B.C. (Died. 23.18.3). Within the Roman province of Sicily it was civitas decumana (Cic. Verr. 2128ff). It is mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary.

Few remains are visible today. Within the modern town and along the shore stretches of the cyclopean walls are preserved, but of uncertain date. The most important monument, the so-called Temple of Diana, is on the peak. It was erected with large boulders around a rock-cut cistern, and it may have been a pre-Hellenic sanctuary. In the center of the cistern a column of three large drums supports a dolmen-like roof. Excavation tests have suggested a date in the 9th-8th c. B.C. In the 6th-5th c. B.C., the original plan of the sanctuary was augmented by the addition in polygonal masonry; its doors identify it as Greek.

A Museum belonging to the Mandralisca Foundation contains Greek and Italic vases, largely from the Aeolian islands, and a rich collection of coins.


P. Marconi, NSc (1929) 273ffPI; E. Gabrici, “Alla ricerca della Solunto di Tucidide,” Kokalos 5 (1959) 1ffI.


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    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.78.7
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