Presentation on theme: "“Termini Imerese” comes to us from the Latin Thermae Himerenses or “Hot Springs of Himera”. Imera was the name that ancient Greeks gave to the first settlement."— Presentation transcript:
“Termini Imerese” comes to us from the Latin Thermae Himerenses or “Hot Springs of Himera”. Imera was the name that ancient Greeks gave to the first settlement they founded near the present Termini Imerese. It was the birthplace of the poet Stesichorus.
A Greek colony of remarkable importance, it had the role of hellenistic- outer harbour towards the Sicilian Chartaginian west. As a matter of fact to the east of Himera stood the rich colonies of Zancle (that later changed its name into Messina), Siracusa, Myles (Milazzo today), while to the east the Hegemony of Carthage was dominant.
Its foundation, according to Tucidide, was due to a group of Calcidesi from Zancle, under the leadership of Euclide, Simo and Saccone, and to a Syracusan exiled people because of a civil war. But, according to some scholars, the new colonies may have enlarged a pre- existing site
The different origins of the population of Himera have made the customs and traditions of the town different from the Greek ones. In addition to the Gods of Olympus, they tended to worship rivers and springs of water, as in the Sicani's tradition; while on a linguistic point of view, the influences of Doric and Corinthian dialect brought along by the Syracusans are clear.
Its importance, is also due to its access to the Tyrrhenian Sea and to the consequent possibility of trade with Etruria and Spain which provided great quantities of silver used to mint the coin. This peculiarity distinguished it from the other Greek colonies.
Yet, it was this closeness to the sea which sealed its fate. In 480 B.C. Terone, tyrant of Akragas, invaded Himera and put Terillo, tyrant of Himera to flight. The latter called the Carthaginians for help, who arrived in Sicily with a great military force, led by Hannibal.Terone asked Gelone of Syracuse to intervene and thus they managed to defeat the Carthaginians. Temples were built and coins were minted to celebrate the victory that, according to the tradition took place on the scene of the famous battle of Salamina.
The military success brought a period of peace and prosperity during which the town could develop both artistically and culturally. This phase was interrupted in 408 when Hannibal, Amilcare's grandson decided to avenge the defeat suffered by his ancestors. After sacking Selinunte, he directed to Himera, no more protected by the Syracusan army.
This time the Carthaginians had the best: Himera was completely destroyed and its inhabitants were killed or deported to Carthage. This once and for all ruined the town. Some years later, on reward, the deported were allowed to come back to Sicily and populate Thermae, founded by the Carthaginians in 407 B.C., together with other colonists of African origin.
Himera was constituted by three districts:The northern and southern districts rose on the plain, where the most northern part hosted the sacred area (which does not include the Temple of Victory). To the North-East there were the houses of the eastern suburb and on the western side the necropolis.
As in other ellenistic centres, the canon of orthogonality was strictly respected. The streets were parallel and equidistant. The absence of a central intersection makes us suppose that the squares and the public buildings were placed in areas destined to housing without spoiling the urban tissue.
Of the sacred area, which was isolated from the housing structure of the town, The main elements are four temples and an altar.The most considerable part of the finds is constituted by the temple of Victoria which presents features similar to the Agrigentinian temples, thus suggesting that the workers who were in charge with its construction came from Akragas. It is said it was built in 480 B.C. on the field where the battle was fought that's why it was called “temple of the Victory” It is a temple of Doric style probably dedicated to Zeus which precedes the call and a pronaos at the back of the cell equal for size and dimension.
During the excavations facing the temples 56 lion-headed shaped gutters were found, probably the work of different sculptors. Other excavations in the themeneos (the sacred area) brought to light a couple of bronze greaves together with fragments of weapons now kept at the Regional Archaelogical Museum of Palermo.
By the early 5th century BC, the strategic importance of the site attracted Theron of Akragas who expelled the tyrant Terillus. Theron’s victory led to nearly a century of Greek supremacy in Sicily. However in 409, the Carthaginians,under Hamilcar’s nephew Hannibal, returned and destroyed the town.
The archeological site of ancient Himera is best known for the remains of its Temple of Victory located at the mouth of the River Imera about eight kilometres east of Termini Imerese, in the district called Buonfornello.
It is a Doric structure built to commemorate the defeat of the Carthaginians,Carthaginian prisoners supplied the labour for its construction. To the south of the temple was the town’s necropolis. Some artefacts recovered from this site are kept in Palermo’s Museo Archeologico Regionale. Today there is a huge industrial complex nearby.