My wife is an excellent map reader which is a good thing because satnav lady is throwing more hissy fits. She clearly does not like Sicily.
Today we said goodbye to our wonderful host Antonella at Coscio di Badia and made our way along coast road 115 to Selinunte. Here are more Greek ruins and in some ways they are more spectacular. I have never been allowed to wander between ruins before. We crossed temple floors, meandered between great stone carved columns and walked through ancient doorways of long ago collapsed homes. Across the windswept dusty plateau in the searing 37C heat we ambled over fallen steps, blocks of stone and toppled columns. The scale of this Ancient Greek city site is awe inspiring. Actually, Sicily is awe inspiring!
Anyway, the city walls, 8m high, were an achievement in themselves. Selinos was once one of the richest and most powerful cities in the world, 100,000 inhabitants and many, many temples. Established in 625BC, atop a hilly promontory between two major rivers, it had its own secure natural harbour and fertile river plains. Its history was fascinating. They allied with the Carthaginians, then the Syracusans from further east, who had defeated the Carthaginians. Later, as a result of territorial disputes with Segesta to the north of Sicily, who called in the Carthaginians to help them defeat these impudent Greeks, Hannibal, my all-time favourite historical person to teach about, destroyed the city to the ground. A nine day siege slaughtering all except those who took shelter in the temples. They were taken as slaves! Later with the arrival of the Romans, more of the city was destroyed and an earthquake in the Middle Ages did the rest.
No wonder there was so much rubble. But look carefully at the rubble and you appreciate the skill. Master craftsmen and apprentice stone masons with slaves carved this great city. The pillars for temples were fluted. The great supporting stones on their tops, sculpted into great bowl shapes. Each pillar piece had a square peg hole some 30cms across through which another stone in the one below pegged with the one on top. Each block of a wall was fitted carefully with the next.
Terracotta wash bowls, almost the size of small baths lying overgrown outside temple steps. The tiny houses and side streets. To step off a main street and down into the skeletal remains of a small home or shop is to walk back in time, to see how ordinary folk lived and worked. A narrow entrance flanked by upright stones; small rooms and an entrance out the back onto an alleyway; and roofs long gone. Much of the stone has been taken down the centuries but here and there original mosaic marble flooring show through.
To place your foot on a floor where once Ancient Greeks, Syracusans and Carthaginians once stood is powerful, emotive stuff! Of course, there was also the site of sacrifice, Twelve thousand of them to be precise; and not all animals, for many were humans. Archaeological finds included many human skulls stuck on ancient spears and spikes. Grisly stuff!
And just in case you wonder what it may have looked like, well here are the historians artistic impressions of what they think you would have seen thousands of years ago......wow!