Archaeologists conducting a dig at the historic Valley of the Temples have made a captivating discovery – a cache of votive offering figurines shedding light on ancient practices. Nestled within the renowned city of Agrigentum in the province of Agrigento, Sicily, the Valley of the Temples has a rich history dating back to its foundation by Greek settlers around 582-580 BC. Thucydides, the Greek historian, traces its origins to colonists hailing from Gela in eastern Sicily, along with subsequent arrivals from Crete and Rhodes.
Since 1997, the sprawling Valley of the Temples, covering an expansive 3212 acres, has earned UNESCO World Heritage status. Distinguished by its exceptional examples of Ancient Greek architecture, the site boasts remarkable structures like the Temple of Concordia, Temple of Juno, Temple of Heracles, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Temple of Castor and Pollux, Temple of Hephaestus (Vulcan), and the Temple of Asclepius.
The area also encompasses the renowned Tomb of Theron, a sizable pyramidal tuff monument believed to have been erected in memory of the Romans who perished in the Second Punic War.
In a recent excavation effort, archaeologists have brought to light more than 60 figurines, protomes (ornamental pieces representing the head and upper torso of animals or humans), female busts, oil lamps, petite vases, and fragments of bronze artifacts.
The Sicilian Region Institutional Portal, in its official statement, expressed, “These discoveries offer valuable insights into the events surrounding the fall of Agrigentum in 406 BC, when its inhabitants sought refuge in Gela amidst the Carthaginian invasion.”
The remarkable find was located in House VII b, part of the residential complex adjacent to the Temple of Juno. Intriguingly, the votive offerings were positioned above the layers of destruction, suggesting that the citizens of the city placed these objects as offerings following the tumultuous Carthaginian incursion.
In summary, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, has yielded an enthralling trove of votive figurines, bringing to light ancient customs and shedding new understanding on the historical events that unfolded during the city’s challenging times.