Easy Trapani

TIME TRAVELLING IN WESTERN SICILY

Digressions between Trapani and Segesta around thousands of years

Time travelling in Western sicily can be a deep experience everywhere and every time. When you are in the cable car connecting Trapani with Erice, you will cast your eyes in a scenario from the punic wars, thousands years ago in the IIIrd century before Christ. You will cast your eyes to a couple of islands that were connected to the land of Sicily until last ice age. A third one is Hiera Nesos, the wildest and far one, always not connected to the rest of that Sicily which was just one land including Pantelleria and other land now totally underwater. Coming back to Trapani, it was also an island separated by a sea channel until the XVIth century. We can even discover an underground Trapani, made by tunnels and caves, and going back to when the Phoenicians met the Elymians, three thousands years ago. It is in this central area of the historical centre of Trapani, that Phoenicians first, then the Chartigians used to store goods, food and raw materials from everywhere in the mediterranean sea and also from the other lands where they were trading from atlantic north africa to northern europe coasts.
Emporium Erice has been called Drepanon, as well, that is Trapani: Drepanon just meaning sickle in old greek, a sickle quite different of contemporary sickle shape of Trapani made during modern history time. That previous sickle has been edited during the reinforcement of the harbour made during the Spanish period of time of Sicily, same period of time when the town merged with rest of Sicily.
Erice: even more intriguing than Trapani from a magnetic, exoteric, religious perspective; holy site for the Elymians, ancient civilization from Western Sicily, where Segesta was their capital. Who were the Elymians? According to historical sources from the Greek and Roman historiography, they were coming from Troy, city and civilization destroyed by the Greeks in the XIIIth century before christ. Their name taken by a Troy leader and general / warrior called Elimio. They arrived in the coast around Trapani, apparently in Pizzolungo village area, just a couple of miles from the town on the northern coast. Others, from Western Sicily moved to the north in the direction of central Italy, in the existing Lazio. There, they turned to be the Romans. Elymians were strongly connected to the Phoenicians first, then the Punic civilization from Carthage. However, interesting are the reflections on their strategies to cope with stronger civilizations, in the mediterranean sea. Segesta, their capital, is today an archeological site where attention is expecially catched for a greek temple and a roman theatre. The greek temple has been built by a team of Athenians lead by one of the best architect Athens had that time, in the Vth century before christ. However, the Elymians were not professing kind of greek religion. Vth century before christ was a crucial period of time for the Elymians: Carthage lost important wars at the beginning of that century, therefore, they did not have same protection anymore. Rival Selinunte, the forever enemy for Segesta and other greek influences in Sicily coming from other leading cities like Syracuse, the main Greek city in Sicily, brought the Elymians to find in Athens the best suitable partner and ally to survive and keep their independence. This is why Athenians diplomats were deeply impressed when they reported home at their capital, after visiting Elymians land, how rich and flourished Elymians were. Athenians saw plenty of gold and jewelries long their visit in Segesta first, then in Erice, as well. They were unaware of the fact that Elymians collected all the gold and other valuable assets from everywhere they were in Western Sicily to totally be shown around Segesta. What is more is that when the Athenian diplomats moved on the way to Erice, Elymians quickly moved all their richness to Erice and Athenians saw it twice and be unaware of the Elymian trick. Because of that, Athens which was looking to expand its influence by culture, to the western mediterranean sea, decided to forge an alliance with the Elymians and build the temple in their acropolis. Segesta’s temple is one of the best we can be in touch with, in all the mediterranean sea. However, it is not ultimated, we can still see today the last steps long the columns, used by the workers to go up long the columns. Just last days before ending the temple, Carthegians came back to Western Sicily in forces and meanwhile, Athens was loosing the Sicilian wars at the end of the Vth century. Carthegians strongly took control of western Sicily forcing the betraying Elyminas flirting with the Athenians to be by now just a satellite of the Punic Civilization of Carthage. Emblematic anecdote is Akragas falling to Carthage in 405 before christ. According to some archeological interpretation, Akragas, today Agrigento, had a population going from 200,000 to 800,000 inhabitants, a huge population for a city, that, anyway is one of the most remarkable and archeological site in all the world, definitely for the all of Sicily.

 



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