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Phoenician-Punic routes in Sicily
Marsala, Palermo, Selinunte, Soluntum as well, Pantelleria, Erice, Favignana, Aegadian Islands, Castellammare del Golfo and Sambuca di Sicilia. Beautiful destinations in Sicily. These places also have another thing in common: having once been the most important Phoenician-Punic centers of the island, trading hubs that were connections between the ancient seafaring people and the locals from the Sicans to the Greeks. Today there are many routes on Sicily, which lead to the traces of the Phoenicians, between archeology and nature. On the “Route of the Phoenicians” Sicily is one of the hubs of the nautical lines. Already visited between the XI. and IX. Century BC. for the creation of bases and commercial hubs to be then target of a stable colonization of the Phoenicians starting from VIII. century BC., especially in the western part of the island. Cities that were initially conceived as commercial centers, and then in the second half of VI. century B.C. fixed to be fortified against the Greeks. Mozia, on the island of San Pantaleo, which is located in the lagoon of Marsala, is one of the best preserved Phoenician settlements: a thick wall with towers, a natural harbor and a drydock blocks, workshops for the production of bricks, vases and for tanning and dyeing leather, temples and sanctuaries. Most finds are located in the National Museum of Palermo and in the local Antiquarium. Along with Palermo and Soluntum (today Santa Flavia) it is counted by Thucydides to be the oldest Phoenician colony in Sicily, in an area where Phoenicians were limited by the Greeks when they arrived in Sicily. But also Segesta and its Segestanum Emporium (today Castellammare del Golfo) is counted to this area, because of the close relationships that the Phoenicians had with the Elimes, and the same applies to Erice, where there was the legendary temple of Astarte. Phoenician traces have also been found on Pantelleria, because the island is at the center of routes between Africa and Sicily and was chosen as a fixed stop. While the Egadi Islands and Lampedusa were only occasional points for the trade routes or were used for defensive purposes. Finally, Selinunte (Castelvetrano) with its vast area from Salemi, north on the border with Segesta, its historic enemy, the river Mazaro (west, today Mazara del Vallo) border with the territory of Mothya, from Mount Adranone (northeast where today Sambuca di Sicilia is) to Eraclea Minoa, the border with Agrigento. The city was founded by the Greeks, but was from 409 BC. Punic.
The routes that allow you to discover this and other destinations, are varied and always planned in harmony with nature. Among the “archaeological walks” of the Route of the Phoenicians (www.movimentolento.it) are proposed, for example, that of the “Big Butterfly” in Favignana, over 15 kilometers long, around the island to discover the sea and the tufa quarries. There are proposals for every taste, as in Selinunte, along the River Belice and in Castello della Pietra, Castellammare del Golfo and the “Zingaro” nature reserve, the city walk in Erice, along the Elymian-Punic Cyclopean walls, while the old colony of Mothya is to be achieved by boat through the lagoon of Marsala.
Phoenician-Punic routes in Sardinia.
Located in the center of the western Mediterranean, Sardinia played a very important role in Phoenician’s history. The contacts with the locals of the Nuragic culture, already living on the island, were very old. The relationship between Nuraghes and Phoenicians and later Carthaginians are the subject of studies by historians, archaeologists and scientists from different disciplines. Of course, today Sardinia has the most valuable products of this civilization. In fact, there are archaeological sites of great importance, such as Nora (now Pula), where you can feel the influence of the ancient Phoenicians. Because of the sea, the key element of the ancient civilization of sailors, and the remains of a vast archaeological area, lapped by the waves, and set in a landscape which will take your breath away. Nora is key point of the route of the Phoenicians (recognized as a cultural itinerary from the Council of Europe) as one of the oldest Phoenician foundations, on the existing nuragic civilization: a stele from the first half of the VIII century BC tolds from a construction of a temple by a Phoenician commander. The settlement had a strategic location on a promontory, good for sea trade, and protected against attacks. Nora is located on the Pula-Kap, separated from the mainland by an isthmus that extends in two directions: to the west to Punta Sa Coloru, to the east to Punta del Coltellazzo, opposing the island of the same name. The remains were discovered almost by accident, at the end of the XIX. Century AD: a strong storm at sea, a “Sciroccata”, as it is called here, let the millenary archaeological emerge. In the last century there have been several excavations and Nora was gradually brought to light.
The Route of the Phoenicians also leads to Karalis (Cagliari), Capo Carbonara (Villasimius), Monteluna (Senorbì) and Trexenta Bithya (Domusdemaria), Pani Loriga (Santadi) Solky (S. Antioco), Inosim (Carloforte), Monte Sirai (Carbonia), the temple of Antas (Fluminimaggiore), Neapolis (Guspini) Othoca (Santa Giusta), Tharros (Cabras), Alghero and Olbia. And many other places, because Phoenician traces can be found everywhere, like in Barumini, famous for the “Su nuraxi”. But we also have other evidence that tell us of the presence of the Phoenicians and later the Carthaginians in Sardinia, for example landscapes: coasts, ports, docks, bays, moist landscapes such as the salt marshes and ponds, natural reserves of great value, such as the landscapes of Trexenda covered by cornfields and the Geo-mining landscape. In Sardinia, all tells something about Phoenicians. Even today’s roads have ancient origins as the food. When we visit the large nuragic plants as Barumini or Palmavera or Sant’Imbenia (Alghero), we note obvious connection with the Phoenician civilization. Today there are many routes in the footsteps of the Phoenicians, between archeology and nature, discovery and passion for the intangible culture, mostly unknown and therefore never banal.