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LILYBAION (Marsala) Trapani, Sicily.

On the extreme W tip of Sicily stood a well-fortified outpost of Carthaginian power in Sicily. It was the only city which Pyrrhos could not conquer when, in 267 B.C., he had succeeded in invading all of Punic Sicily, including Panormos. It was founded after the destruction of Motya in 397-396 B.C. Although there is some slight evidence that the territory of Lilybaion was inhabited in prehistoric times, there is no indication of a regularly established settlement until after the above-mentioned date. It was conquered by the Romans after the battle of the Egadi islands in 241 B.C.; even during the Roman period its importance, both military and commercial, was so considerable, that it was made the seat of one of the two quaestores of Sicily.

Exploration of the ancient habitation center is difficult because it lies under the modern city. The site was surrounded by substantial walls except for the side along the seashore, and a wide moat was part of the fortification system. The cemeteries (4th c. B.C.-2d c. A.D.) which lie to the W of the city have been thoroughly explored. The typical rock-cut Punic graves either have a vertical shaft leading into one or more funerary chambers, or consist of a rectangular cist. For cremation, amphoras of various shapes were used or urns made of local stone called lattimusa; and for burial, limestone sarcophagi. The grave goods included vases of various types and periods, often undecorated, some Hellenistic pottery, and considerable Punic ware. Stelai, some of typical and traditional shape and others in the shape of naiskoi, have been found and display features clearly Punic within a context not unfamiliar with Classical motifs. The later stelai, probably to be dated to the 1st-2d c. A.D. on the basis of the epigraphical data, are more properly defined as funerary aediculae in the shape of small buildings with small pediments and columns either prostyle or in antis, often in the round, or with pillars and antae. They are carved out of limestone often coated with a thick layer of white stucco on which vivid colors are applied; the paintings depict banquet scenes, flower garlands, inscriptions in Greek, and finally the symbol of Tanit with the caduceus.

At the extreme W tip, called Capo Boeo, a part of the ancient city has been uncovered which in its latest phase belongs to the 3d-4th c. A.D.; it represents a rich and elegant complex including a small bath. Some rooms of this insula are decorated with polychrome mosaics that seem to reflect motifs and influences from nearby N Africa and its mosaic repertoire. In other parts of the city mosaics include one with Theseus and the Minotaur (1st c. A.D.) and one with the Four Seasons (2d c. A.D.). The city had its own mint after the Roman occupation.


I. Marconi-Bovio, “Marsala: Villa romana,” Le Arti 2 (1940) 389-90; id., “Origine della città di Lilibeo,” Lumen 2.2-3 (1949) 1ff; G. Schmiedt, “Contributo della fotografia aerea alla ricostruzione della topografia antica di Lilibeo,” Kokalos 9 (1963) 49ffMPI; A. M. Bisi, “La cultura antica di Lilibeo nel periodo punico,” Oriens Antiquus (1968) 95ff; id., “Ricerche sulle fortificazioni puniche di Lilibeo,” ArchCl 20 (1968) 259ff.


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