[Archaeology] is not what you find, it’s what you find out. --David Hurst Thomas
The following summary is courtesy of Glenn Storey, Associate Professor of Classics and Anthropology at the University of Iowa:
The Gangivecchio Archaeological Project (GAP) began in 2000 and is continuing. Gangivecchio is a site in east central Sicily, between Enna to the south and Cefalú to the north on the coast. The site features a structure originally built in the 14th century as a Benedictine Abbey, with four major natural springs pouring out of the mountainside to the north, piped to a cistern just outside the Abbey courtyard.
There is no doubt that the Abbey is associated with a Roman site, featuring Late Roman, Byzantine and Medieval components in the courtyard. The remains of a Roman villa with associated artifacts dating from the first to fifth centuries A.D. lie just east of the Abbey.
Indications [also] suggest at least a Hellenistic Greek component to the site and the preliminary survey of 2000 confirmed a significant Greek component on the west side of the property that may date back to the Greek colonial period in the 8th to 7th century B.C., consistent with the dating of Greek colonial sites nearby.
Local tradition holds to an eariler Greek presence, perhaps as far back as 1200 B.C., in the form of colonization from Mycenaean Crete. The main evidence for this is the regional cultural memory focused on the cult of the Earth-Mother Goddesses (two or three) fertility deities whose cult originated on Crete (and who may be the origin of the manifestations of the Virgin Mary associated with the Abbey). Mycenaean presence in Sicily is well-establihsed.
Gangivecchio could also have been the fabled Greek city of Engion, mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, or a cult center associated with that city-state.
Gangicecchio's permanent water would have made it a landmark in the ancient landscape so it was likely an important cult center, with a bustling economy ulimately tied into the Roman world-system.
Site excavation and study are time-consuming and costly, but our committment to uncovering the ancient history of Gangivecchio remains strong. If you represent a university or institution interested in supporting our efforts, please email Giovanna Tornabene directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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