by DANILO CARUSO
Beetwen the centuries VIII and VI b.C. numerous groups of Greeks emigrated in Sicily, those brought their civilization in the island coming into contact, and also clashing, with the old inhabitants (Sicanians and Siculians). They said in the antiquity that Minos, character belonging more to the Greek legends that to the history, he had been here in precedence killed by a sicanian king, Cocalus, and that after he had been buried in a point on which subsequently rose a temple of Aphrodite.
The mythology narrates that Daedalus, run away by Crete, found hospitality in Sicily beside Cocalus but the mythical cretan sovereign that pursued him to do justice to himself for the episode of the Minotaur tracks him. The thalassocrat unwisely accepts an invitation of the Sicanian to his fortress of Kamikos, and here he is killed during a bath together with his daughters. Theron, tyrant of Agrigento between 489 and 472 b.C., taken back the story of the killing of Minos and used it in order to conquest: the myth was built by the Agrigentinians to annex a territorial band beyond own confinements and with fundamental defensive importance.
Theron took like pretext of his military action the fact that he wants to avenge the cretan king. According to the thesis from me elaborated, exposed in my essay “SICANIA / Il sito sicano di Colle Madore: dalla leggenda alla realtà (2004)”, the sacellum (with the surrounding environments) of the archaeological area analyzed, set to the outskirts of the Commune of Lercara Friddi, represents what was in past identified as temple of Aphrodite / sepulchre of Minos about which Diodorus Siculus then spoke in his “Historical Library”: the particular position of the hill, the etymology of the name, the analysis of the finds and the type of liturgy that there unwound allow to intend it. The Madore and the Sicanianss, that lived in it for remote times, joining, beginning from a millennium before the birth of Christ, were crushed beetwen the States of two new greek cities: Agrigento to south and Himera to north.
The hill and its zone were neuralgic for a military point of view for the control of the surrounding regions. This hill was in fact closed to the dominion of Akragas, on an height of the strategic watershed of the rivers Torto and Platani, from which the ways in direction of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Mediterranean were checked. At first the Greeks of none of the two parts occupied with the strength the area, rather they maintained it neutral through the exploitation of its temple devoted to Aphrodite. These spaces of border was besides characterized in the thematic reflection by the image of the water. The name Madore derives from the Greek adjective madarós (wet): the territory around the hill had perhaps called the region of the waters, the proximity to the river basins and the presence of aqueous strata make to think it. The recovery of an aedicule, on which a man is represented sat on the edge of a tub (Minos), and of a basin for lustral water – both coming from the sacellum – also testify the centrality of the water as cultual element, in a liturgical context characterized by sacrificial offers (thysía).
The Acragantinians in a second moment thought about acting in a different way: the invasion in weapons of a zone made neutral through religious motivations asked for a valid justification in order to avoid the accusation of sacrilege. They said, with hypocrisy, that the sepulchre of Minos was on Colle (Hill) Madore, under the temple of Aphrodite. It gave the possibility to attack because they affirmed to want to avenge him: and this would not have made them in appearance guilty of an unfair thing in the judgments of their contemporaries. By doing so the Madore (together with the whole territory of Himera) fell in the hands of Agrigento around 483 b.C.
The excavations conducted on this tract of land (1995, 1998 2004) by the Superintendence to the cultural heritage from Palermo – after the donation of Antonino Caruso to the Commune of Lercara Friddi of the first finds accidentally discoveries in 1992 – have brought to the light, besides, the sacred area in examination, situated in proximity of the top. Meaningful recoveries are parts of statuettes of Demeter and an incision in punic language (evocative of Astarte) recalling, for analogy, the cult of Aphrodite, whose presence on the Madore is without doubt proved by different recoveries: an acephalous statuette of female divinity that has in her arms a hare (sacred animal to Aphrodite), a piece of bowl with on the fund reproduced a swastika and a foil embellished by bull heads embossed worked (clear figurative representations to her connected).
As a consequence of the false revenge of Theron the substitution of Demeter to Aphrodite (both goddesses of the fertility) is possible, given the absence, because of the following lack of the theme of the sepulchre, of the couple Aphrodite/Minos: the nature was compared to the female figure, therefore Aphrodite was equivalent to Demeter. Other finds (the fragments of the antefisses of the temple, the model of hut with circular plan, etc.) confirm my study that also justifies the presence of material imported from Himera as simple commercial purchase, material that was inserted in a culture influenced by Akragas. Among the bronzy foils discovered one represents a female divinity (or Aphrodite or Demeter).
The sacred space of this temple of Aphrodite partially was destroyed, in the way according to which Diodorus Siculus tells, in 483/482 b.C. by Theron of Agrigento (in reality in what could appear his hypogeal place there was not the Minoan tomb invented by the Acragantinians, on the contrary a shop for the workmanship of the metals). In the spring of 409 b.C. the Carthaginians, which occupied a western part of Sicily, destroyed during a war against the Greek, the whole inhabited area of Colle Madore and its population therefore was dispersed. Considered the renown of the place I have believed possible a visit of the poet Pindar in the temple of Aphrodite / sepulchre of Minos during the period of his permanence in Sicily (476/475 b.C.), seen his relationships with the Emmenidians and the aristocratic and commemorative matrix of his poetry. My thesis is alternative to a series of other four locations proposed by other researchers: Eraclea Minoa, the tholoi of Sant’Angelo Muxaro, Licata, the Caves of the Gurfa of Alia.
The fortress sicanian of Kamikos was usually identified with Sant’Angelo Muxaro, but this should not involve that the pretense burial of Minos must automatically be situated in its proximities: in the Greek reality the choice of the site of the sepulchre and the connection with the myth were functional to the expansive agrigentinian politics and not to the legend. Colle Madore introduces suitable connotations and doesn’t matter the fact that is distant from the coast, rather what is more is that it was situated on the axle Sabucina-Polizzello delimiting in the VI century b.C. the northern border of the acragantinian dominion.
A study of the early nineteenth century of G. Nicastro set Kamikos at Sutera: the summit of the mountain San (St.) Paolino (to whose feet the modern country is placed) is visible from the Madore looking toward east. The tholoi are always very suggestive, but they are functional to the mythical aspect of the minoan stories unlike the history of Agrigento and Theron more pertinent to the analysis.
With regard to Colle Madore my system diverges from a formulation elaborated by the archaeologist Stefano Vassallo that connects this site to the influence of Himera: particularly he interprets the person of the aedicule above mentioned as Heracles and moreover sustains an etymology from the arab language of the place-name Madore.
Danilo Caruso / SICANIA - Il sito sicano di Colle Madore: dalla leggenda alla realtà
(essay in pdf)