Location: Catania/Mineo, Catania, Italy
Rocchicella di Mineo (town of Mineo, Province of Catania, eastern Sicily) is best known as the location of the Sanctuary of the Divine Palikoi, the most venerated cult-place of Sicily's indigenous Sikel peoples. It developed around a series of geysers, known as the 'boiling lakes', which were said by Diodorus Siculus to have roared at times in their intensity. The sanctuary had a monumental layout from as early as the seventh century B.C., and it was known to have served as an oracle center, a place of refuge and at times an independent political entity in the course of Mediterranean antiquity. Although known to be an archaeological site since the 16th century, most of the scientific exploration at Rocchicella di Mineo has been conducted in the past two decades under agencies of the Sicilian Regional government, including the Soprintendenza per i Beni Culturali ed Ambientali di Catania and the former Parco Archaeologico della Ceramica del Calatino. Florida Atlantic University is proud to collaborate in the research activities of these institutions. Monumental architecture of Greek character, including stoai, a hestiaterion, and a temple on the summit of the Rocchicella characterize the layout of the sanctuary in the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, but another extraordinary aspect of the site is its extensive stratigraphic sequence, which runs from the Paleolithic period through the early Middle Ages. Issues related to social and political history, material culture, climatology, and the history of the landscape are all part of the research package that is available to scholars and students at this location, and the Soprintendenza per i Beni Culturali ed Ambientali di Catania has facilities for recovery, storage, and restoration of artifacts and other materials, as well as educational display, which are used by groups at many levels, from grade school through post-graduate instruction.
The project envisioned by Florida Atlantic University for the summer of 2014 is part of the Sicilian Region's long-term plan for development of the site, and it builds on work done in previous years. Particular emphasis will be given to the exploration of a well-built water channel that runs horizontally for at least 335 meters along the lower slope of the Rocchicella. Clearly this structure built into the landscape was important to the functioning of the sanctuary, but it may also have had a major role in the supply and management of the waters in the boiling lakes themselves. Limited excavation in the canal has recovered important information regarding it's construction and use, and a systematic exploration of the entire course is likely to yield much more information about the way in which people in antiquity with a good knowledge of hydraulic engineering and water management were able to handle this precious resource.
The five-week program (May 18 - June 21, 2014) is based in Catania, and trasportation is supplied to and from the archaeological site. Work on the site four days per week is supplemented by a fifth day, which is dedicated to classroom lectures on the archaeology and history of ancient Sicily and travel to other major locations, including Agrigento, Caltagirone, Morgantina/Piazza Armerina, and Syracuse. Participants in the program receive undergraduate or graduate credit from Florida Atlantic University. The project is limited to twelve students.
Period(s) of Occupation: Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: five weeks
Room and Board Arrangements