Segesta (Ancient Greek: Ἔγεστα, translit. Egesta;
Sicilian: Siggésta) was one of the major cities of the Elymian
people, one of the three indigenous peoples of Sicily. The other major
cities of the
Elymians were Eryx and Entella. It is located in the
northwestern part of
Sicily in Italy, near the modern comune of
Calatafimi-Segesta in the province of Trapani. The
Segesta happened very early and had a profound effect on its
2 The temple
3 Further reading
5 External links
According to the tradition used in Virgil's Aeneid,
founded jointly by the territorial king
Acestes (who was son of the
local river Crinisus by a Dardanian woman named
Segesta or Egesta) and
by those of Aeneas' folk who wished to remain behind with
found the city of Acesta. The belief that the name of the city was
originally Acesta or Egesta and changed to
Segesta by the Romans to
avoid its ill-omened meaning in Latin is disproved by coins showing
Segesta was indeed the earlier name.
The population of
Segesta was mixed Elymian and Ionian Greek, though
Elymians were soon Hellenized and took on external characteristics
of Greek life.
Segesta was in constant conflict with
Selinus (modern Selinunte),
which probably tried to assure itself a port on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The first clashes were in 580-576 BC, and again in 454 BC,
but later the conflict would have repercussions for all of Sicily. In
Athens for help against Selinus, leading to
a disastrous Athenian expedition in
Sicily (415-413 BC). Later
Carthage for help, leading to the total destruction of the
Selinus by the hands of Carthage.
Segesta remained an ally of
Carthage, it was besieged by Dionysius of Syracuse in 397 BC, and
it was destroyed by
Agathocles in 307 BC, but recovered.
In 276 BC the city was allied with Pyrrhus. In 260 BC It
surrendered to the Romans. The city was not punished by the Romans for
its long alliance with Carthage, but owing to the mythical common
origin of the Romans and the
Elymians (both descendants of refugees
from Troy) it was granted the state of a "free and immune" city.
In 104 BC the slave rebellion led by Athenion started in Segesta.
Little is known about the city under Roman rule, but it is probable
that the population gradually moved to the port city of Castellammare
del Golfo due to better trading opportunities. The city was destroyed
by Vandals. The ruins of the city are located on the top of Monte
Bàrbaro at 305 m above sea level. The city was protected by
steep slopes on several sides and by walls on the more gentle slope
towards the temple.
The hilltop offers a view over the valley towards the Gulf of
Castellamare. The city controlled several major roads between the
coast to the north and the hinterland.
The Greek theatre
Very little is known about the city plan. Aerial photography indicates
a regular city plan, built in part on terraces to overcome the natural
sloping terrain. The current remains might be from the reconstruction
after the destruction of the city by Agathocles.
Current archaeological work indicates that the site was reoccupied by
a Muslim community in the Norman period. Excavations have unearthed a
Muslim necropolis and a mosque from the 12th century next to a Norman
castle. Evidence suggests that the mosque was destroyed after the
arrival of a new Christian overlord at the beginning of the 13th
century. The city appears to have been finally abandoned by the second
half of the 13th century.
Segesta Temple in Thomas Cole´s picture from 1843
On a hill just outside the site of the ancient city of
Segesta lies an
unusually well preserved Doric temple. It is thought to have been
built in the 420's BC by an Athenian architect and has six by
fourteen columns on a base measuring 21 by 56 meters, on a
platform three steps high. Several elements suggest that the temple
was never actually finished. The columns have not been fluted as they
normally would have been in a Doric temple and there are still tabs
present in the blocks of the base (used for lifting the blocks into
place but then normally removed). It also lacks a cella and was never
roofed over. The temple is also unusual as the city was not mainly
populated by Greeks. It can also be noted that this temple lacks any
painted or sculptured ornamentation, altar, and deity dedication.
This temple escaped destruction by the Carthaginians in the late 5th
Burford, Alison (1961). "Temple Building at Segesta". The Classical
Quarterly. 11 (1–2): 87–93. doi:10.1017/S0009838800008417.
^ Trismegistos GEO ID: 22277 http://www.trismegistos.org/place/22277
^ Janelli, Lorena; Cerchiai, Luca; Longo, Fausto (June 2004). The
Greek Cities of
Magna Graecia and Sicily. J. Paul Getty Museum.
p. 272. ISBN 978-0892367511.
^ Scully, Vincent. 1969. The earth, the temple, and the gods; Greek
sacred architecture. New York: Praeger.
^ Grinnell, Isabel Hoopes. 1943. Greek temples.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Segesta.
Official website (in Italian)
Photos of the site
Panoramic virtual tour inside the Doric temple
Sybaris on the Traeis
Archaeological sites in Sicily
Province of Agrigento
Valle dei Templi
Valle dei Templi - Temple of Concordia - Temple of Heracles - Temple
of Juno - Temple of Olympian Zeus
Province of Caltanissetta
Greek baths of Gela
Polizzello archaeological site
Province of Catania
Province of Enna
Villa Romana del Casale
Province of Messina
Ancient theatre of Taormina
Villa Romana di Patti
Province of Palermo
Province of Ragusa
Province of Syracuse
Cava del Rivettazzo
Colonne di San Basilio
Roman amphitheatre of Syracuse
Altar of Hieron
Ear of Dionysius
Greek Theatre of Syracuse
Grotta del Ninfeo
Temple of Athena
Temple of Apollo
Necropolis of Cassibile
Necropolis of Pantalica
Villa Romana del Tellaro
Province of Trapani
Grotta del Genovese
Cave di Cusa
Roman furnaces in Alcamo