Centuripae (Sicily) 73 Centuripe - Κεντούριπαι

Κεντούριπαι - Centuripae, Classical to Medieval polis, Centuripe in Sicily, Italy

Modern description Princeton Encyclopedia

About 35 km NW of Catania, on a strategic mountain ridge of 726 m elevadon. The Sikel town was gradually Hellenized in the 5th and 4th c. B.C. Ruled intermittently by Greek tyrants (Aristoxenos, fg. 17 [ed. Wehrli]; Diod. 14.78.7), the populace was largely Sikel (Thuc. 6.94.3; Diod. 13.83.4). At other times, the town belonged to Syracuse, against whose rule it rebelled repeatedly (Thuc. 6.94.3; 7.32 [alliance with Athenians]; Diod. 16.82.4 [liberation by Timoleon]). In 312 B.C., and probably from 304 to 289 B.C., it belonged to Agathokles (Diod. 19.103.2; 20.56.3), in 270 to Hieron II (Diod. 22.13.1). Shortly thereafter, in 263 B.C., the town submitted to Rome (Diod. 23.4). Elevated to the status of civitas libera atque immunis for her strategic importance and loyalty in 241 B.C. (Cic. Verr. 2.3.6 [par. 13]; Sil. Pun. 14.240), it rose to wealth and importance; Cicero refers to it once as civitas totius Siciliae multo maxima et locupletissima (Verr. 2.4.23 [par. 50]). But the Verrine exploitation and the war of Sextus Pompey reduced it to a minor city again. Despite an Augustan restoration (Strab. 6.272) and sporadic periods of reconstruction in the 2d and 3d c. A.D., it sank to insignificance. An unimportant village throughout the Byzantine, Arab, and Norman periods, it was partially destroyed for insubordination by Frederick II in 1232 and completely razed by Charles of Anjou shortly thereafter. Refounded by a count of Aderno in 1548, the modern town occupies the ancient site.
The architectural remains, almost exclusively of Roman date, are scattered among the slopes and valleys surrounding the town. Beside extensive remains of ancient retaining and fortification walls, now incorporated into modern buildings, the following monuments are of most interest: 1) The so-called Roman Baths, actually an Imperial nymphaeum, NW of the town; an extensive ruin, ca. 50 m wide, containing five vaulted apses of unequal size and orientation, and adjoining rooms to the S. The building's date is disputed, as there is no inscriptional or brick-stamp evidence. 2) A Hellenistic house, N of the town; in size a modest dwelling of the 1st c. B.C., it is of interest in its unusual floor plan, with short corridors connecting symmetrically arranged rooms. Remains of incrustation-style wall decoration are extant in some rooms, as well as a floor mosaic of geometric motifs. Two pairs of terracotta satyrs and maenads, now in the Siracusa Museum, served as atlantes and caryatids in the house. 3) Remains of smaller, perhaps private, baths of Imperial date (Acqua Amara, Stalle Antiche) on the E side of the town. 4) A building, perhaps official, of Augustan date at the Mulino Barbagallo nearby; an example of representative, ambitious architecture not otherwise preserved in the town, it contains a fine marble floor and interior colonnade. In the building were found several marbles, including fragments of a colossal Julio-Claudian portrait statue. Numerous dedicatory inscriptions testify to the later use of the building in the 3d c. A.D. 5) Of interest are the 'Dogana,'; a reservoir and fountain house, and a mausoleum (the so-called Castello di Corradino), both of the 2d c. A.D.
The town is surrounded by seven ancient necropoleis. Excavations have concentrated on the easternmost (Contrada Casino), in use from the 3d through 1st c. B.C. Besides the usual burial gifts of unguentaria and coins, the tombs have yielded substantial amounts of terracotta figurines of local manufacture, attesting to a flourishing industry during the 3d and 2d c., and polychromatic nuptial vases of the 3d c. B.C., unique testllflonia to the artistic and social ambitions of the town. The most representative collections of terracottas and vases are now in the Museo Nazionale of Siracusa. (P. DEUSSEN)


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