Census of Ancient Bronze Age sites in the Modica territory
(by Vittorio G. Rizzone and Anna M. Sammito)

Taken from: Archivesum Historicum mothicense magazine N. 5/1999 (edited byBoarding school of Modica

This work aims to provide a picture of the spread of the settlements of theancient Bronze Age (About 2200-1450 BC) limitedly to territory of the Municipality of Modica (table I). The adoption of the criterion of remaining within the current administrative limits - which certainly do not reflect the ancient situation and do not identify a homogeneous geographical and cultural area - it cannot be scientifically justifiable, but the choice was imposed primarily for practical and logistical reasons that the high density of sites in the southern area -east of Sicily suggests. The criterion of presenting the sites subdivided topographically by geographical areas, such as river valleys (Irminio, Fiumara di Modica, Cava Ispica, Cava Prainito), coastal area sub-coast.

This census operation, on the other hand, can be linked to similar works carried out for the territories of the other Municipalities of the same area in order to reconstruct a more complete picture possible of the emergencies relating to the period in question and therefore lead to synthesis works that contemplate data that are as objective and real as possible. Secondly, they intend to offer the Modicani, the first readers of this magazine, information regarding their territory.

The preliminary data that are presented were provided above all by the topographical survey on the emergencies that occur in the territory, consisting mainly of the necropolis with artificial caves. The violation of the tombs already in ancient times and the lack of more in-depth investigations on each site do not sometimes allow a secure chronological classification, and, even more so, it becomes difficult to establish temporal relationships between the different sites1; the chronological data mostly it is based on typology of the tombs and, for some sites, sui  few materials which have sometimes been recovered.


Irminio Valley

Sant'Antonino - Grotta dell'Acqua: IGM f ° 276 Modica I SO (table II).

On the plateaus overlooking the left bank of the Irminio river near the Costanzo bridge, a settlement is suspected of the presence of cocciame, fuseruole, millstones and millstones in lava stone, which testify to a sedentary attendance. The siliceous material is found abundant, due to the numerous veins of flint that emerge among the limestone banks of the area. It is likely that the settlement is linked to the quarrying and processing of flint, like one of the many village-workshops spread in the Hyblean area2.

There is no evidence relating to the necropolis, except for two sporadic tombs left in an incoative state and located in areas a little more distant, in Costa del Diavolo and, at the bottom of the valley, in Cafeo. For the rest there is no trace of a necropolis; it is probable that caves and ravines of karst origin were used as burial grounds, which may previously have been exploited as quarries-mines, according to the example of Monte Tabuto and Monte Racello3. It should be borne in mind, however, that other forms of burial are also documented in the Hyblean area, albeit less frequently4.

River of Modica

Modica, Quartiriccio: IGM f ° 276 Modica I SO (table II).

Inside the current urban center of Modica, in the north-eastern area near the fountain of San Pancrazio, one has been identified necropolis originally quite extensive. Despite the continuous tampering and intense urbanization, a part of it is preserved in the Catena district and, above all, in the Quartiriccio area. The tombs are about thirty and are scattered in the rocky crags. They are almost all of the oven type; most of them have devastated entrances, except for tombs 4, 14, 22 and 25. The first, in particular, is part of the typology of monumental tombs with a facade decorated with pilasters. The t. 14 is the only one to be canonically articulated with vestibule, anteroom and cell.

On the plateau above, called Pianta, the relative village must have been: they come from here lithic industry materials ceramic finds. These findings made in the 90s following the excavation for the foundations of a building are added to the materials recovered previously (in the last century and during an intervention in 1979) in the lower part of the slope, in the Vignazza area, and on the plateau above, in piazza di Santa Teresa; recently a fragment of a basin on a foot was also found in the area of ​​the Castello dei Conti5.

Bibliography: AM SAMMITO, Modica: the Castelluccio settlement of Quartiriccioin  Archaeological Sicily XXX, 1997, pp. 87-104; VG RIZZONE - AM SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age with decorated façade in the territory of Modicain  Sic. Arch., in cds

  Montserrat: IGM f ° 276 Modica I SO (table II).

On the hill of Monserrato - opposite the cliff of the Modica Castle - in the upper part of the slope of the San Liberale valley, there is a group of tombs survived the excavations carried out for the medieval rock settlement. There are about ten tombs and typologically very simple with sub-circular plants and vaulted ceilings: the entrances have been largely devastated, in some cases only the back wall of the tombs remains.

Bibliography: reporting in VG RIZZONE - AM SAMMITO, Lo status quaestionis of archaeological research in Modica I - from the ancient Bronze Age to the Hellenistic agein  Archivum Historicum Mothycense n. 3, 1997, p. 59.

Caitina - Cava Ddieri: IGM f ° 276 Modica I SO (table II).

On the left side of the Fiumara, a settlement belonging to the early Bronze Age was reported in 1905 by P. Orsi, who recorded, on the spur at the confluence between Cava Ddieri and Fiumara, about thirty tombs with an artificial cave; only two were subjected to a systematic excavation: one of them (with a circular plan with a diameter of 1,30 m) contained a dozen skeletons, one biconical pyx and four hourglass vases. In the plateau above the contrada Caitina Orsi identified the town suspected by the presence of "Patches of black earth containing shards, flints and bones".

As far as the necropolis is concerned, just over half of the tombs (about seventeen) are located close to the medieval rock settlement, in a small cove, located in the upper part of the slope. The tombs show the same typology: they are oven-shaped with generally oval or rounded entrances and only the t. 2 and t. 4 have a rectangular entrance, preceded by an access vestibule; the plants of the cells, on the other hand, have considerable dimensions: some reach a diameter of m. 2,50 (t. 8, t. 16 and t. 17), others (t. 12 and t. 13), due to the erosion of the rock, have the appearance of natural ravines; generally the ceiling of the cells is flat.

Seven other tombs are found scattered in the Fiumara quarry, north of this spur: among these the t. 21 of the oven type with a hint of a niche on the back wall. Another small group is located about 300 m. further north and consists of six tombs (nos. 23-28) which show different characters than those described so far and are perhaps attributable to the late and final Bronze Age6.

Tombs are also dug on the opposite side of the Fiumara quarry, under the plateau of Scardacucco (v. infra).

Bibliography: P. ORSI, Sicilian necropolis and Byzantine troglodyte villagein  News of the Excavations of Antiquity 1905, pp. 430-431; reporting also in S. MINARDO, Cava d'Ispica, Ragusa 1905, p. 95, note no. 1; for the rock settlement v. VG RIZZONE, The cave church of Cava Ddieri near Modicain  Sic. Arch. XXIX, 1996, pp. 191-194.

Fiumara - Gisirella: IGM f ° 276 Modica I SO (table II).

In the upper part of the right side of the Fiumara quarry, under the plateau of the Gisirella district, there are a dozen tombs obtained in the rocky crags and distributed in groups of two-three, about 20 m apart. from each other. Only three of them (nos. 1, 8 and 11) are oven-like with roughly rounded entrances, in some cases (nos. 1 and 8) with irregular channels dug in the center of the entrance threshold. The other tombs have almost all been left in an incoative state and three are largely devastated. A small hypogeum with engraved crosses perhaps uses an earlier tomb.

Bibliography: Reports of this group of tombs can be found in VG RIZZONE, An anonymous rock church in the Modica countryside, Modica 1995, p. 32, note 4; RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Lo status quaestionis..., cit., p. 59, note 9; SAMMITO, Modica: the settlement ..., cit., p. 101.

Fiumara - Scardacucco: IGM f ° 276 Modica I SO (table II).

Further downstream, along the same right side of the Fiumara, under the plateau of the Scardacucco district, there is another small necropolis consisting of a dozen tombs dug into the highest crags. They have differentiated planimetric articulations; we highlight: the t. 1 with a slightly bilobed plan, with a rectangular entrance and a short vestibule equipped with two holes for housing the hatch; the t. 4 with an almost quadrangular plan with a high and irregular quay (about 0,25 m; width at the center 0,20 m) along the left side; the t. 5 very large with a sub-circular plan with a convex and slender profile elevation, with a short vestibule largely devastated.

These tombs do not seem to fall within the canonical funerary typology of the ancient Bronze Age and, since they have all been violated, their precise chronological classification becomes difficult, especially since in the area there is no lack of archaeological evidence referable to a later age: in addition to known finding of the storage room of the Mulino del Salto assignable to the phase of Cassibile (1000- 850 BC)7, there is a necropolis with artificial caves attributable to the Iron Age8.

Five other artificial caves are found even further downstream in the central part of the slope almost in front of the mouth of the Ddieri quarry. These tombs are attributable to their typology faces castellucciana: two are placed side by side and have oval plants preceded by vestibules equipped with recesses for housing the hatch; a third tomb has reduced dimensions (cell 0,52 m deep, 0,95 m wide, 0,65 m high).

Bibliography: reports in RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Lo status quaestionis..., cit., p. 59, note 9; SAMMITO, Modica: the settlement ..., cit., p. 101.

Ispica quarry

Baravitalla: IGM f ° 276 Modica I SO; Cava d'Ispica I SE (plate III).

In the northern part of Cava Ispica there is a known settlement datable, mainly, to theancient bronze age, but which has also returned framed material in the following period. In the 80s the area was the subject of investigations by the Superintendency: the research concentrated on some tombs and on the area of ​​the village and led to the identification of at least three huts and two hearths and a wall with a still unclear function.9.

La necropolis it extends along the slopes of the Cava (district Marchesa to the west and Baravitalla to the east). Overall, more than seventy tombs have been surveyed distributed in a very large area covered by dense vegetation and subjected to continuous changes not only recently with the construction of roads, but also in ancient times: in fact, next to the prehistoric tombs there are small hypogea and Late Roman niches and large caves used as dwellings, especially along the slope of the Marchesa district.

Most of the tombs have a fairly simple plan with a more or less large subcircular plan, and a roughly rounded entrance, in some cases more regular; sometimes - tombs 5, 13, 22, 24, 30 and 33 - there are niches. Few others are more complex: in addition to the well-known tomb with a facade decorated with pilasters (t. 24), the nearby t. 22, with a small pavilion, anteroom with six holes drilled along the walls for the closing system, subcircular plan with a raised niche on the right wall and the t. 31 with a large square-cut pavilion and canonical succession of anteroom and cell, between which there are two openings.

Other tombs (9-11 and 53) are characterized by a long and narrow rectangular entrance, through which one enters the quadrangular cells (t. 9 and t. 11) with rounded corners or circular plan (t. 10 and t. 53); all have a flat ceiling. These are tombs that can be traced back to the late and final Bronze Age10. In this period the tombs 3 and 5 placed on the side of the Marchesa district are also framed, showing a shape tholoid the first ea pseudotholos the second11.

From the topographical point of view, the tombs that can be classified in a later period are not isolated, but scattered and inserted among those of the faces of Castelluccio.

Bibliography: G. DI STEFANO - D. BELGIORNO, Cava Ispica: recent excavations and discoveries, Modica 1983, pp. 17-38; G. DI STEFANO, Small guide of the prehistoric stations of the iblei, Ragusa 1984, pages 114-121; for the question of the Baravitalla wall v. E. PROCELLI, Cultures and Societies in Sicily between the Neolithic and the Middle Bronze Agein  Acta Hyperborea 6, 1995, p. 24; IDEM, Agro-pastoral civilization ..., cit., p. 345; for blood cell bone v. O. ADAMO, Pendants and amulets of the facies of Castelluccio in Sicilyin  Historical Archive for Eastern Sicily LXXXV, 1989, pp. 24-25; for materials belonging to the cultural phase of Thapsos see. L. GUZZARDI, New data on the culture of Thapsos in Ragusa, in ACE LXXXII, 1985-1986, pp. 220-223 and SAMMITO, Modica: the settlement ..., cit., p. 104, note 43; S. BELLUARDO - G. CIAVORELLA, In search of the Great Goddess. The prehistoric rock architecture in the Iblei, Modica 1999, p. 36 and passim; for the pilaster tomb, see RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age ..., cit.

Cozzo: IGM f ° 276 Cava d'Ispica I SE (table III).

In the area between the Grotta della Signora and the area of ​​the Fallen Caves, about ten tombs very devastated, which testify to another site located in this part of the quarry. Five are located in front of the Cavallo d'Ispica mill; few others are present near the catacomb of the Larderia and, on the opposite side, above the rock church of San Nicola. Near the area of ​​the "Fallen Caves", S. Minardo had already reported the presence of "Sicilian kiln sepulchers that peep out here and there" among the large caves of the rock settlement. Almost nothing remains of the prehistoric necropolis with the exception of a tomb incorporated in the hypogeum A of the so-called Camposanto: this tomb has a trapezoidal entrance and inside the plan is circular. The tampering continued with the excavation of the troglodyte settlement completely engulfed the most ancient evidence, so that it is not possible to verify the consistency of the necropolis.

Bibliography: MINARDO, Cava d'Ispica, cit., p. 22; G. AGNELLO, Unpublished catacombs of the Ispica quarryin  Journal of Christian Archeology XXXV, 1959, p. 102; DI STEFANO - BELGIUM, Cava Ispica ..., cit., pp. 59-60.

For the Amazon: IGM f ° 276 Cava d'Ispica I SE (table III).

Along the course of the Cava Ispica, before the large settlements of the middle section of the quarry, there is another small group of tombs in the spur of rock located in the upper part of the right side of the Cava, above the Pernamazzone mill. These are five large oven tombs, with a circular plan up to m. 2,00 in diameter, with devastated entrances. Not far away, under the plateau of the Gisirella district, there is a quadrangular tomb, with a quay, attributable to the Iron Age. 

 Cava Lavinaro: IGM f ° 276 Cava d'Ispica I SE; Ispica II NE (plate III).

The Lavinaro quarry is a deep swallow-tailed gorge, flowing into the Cava Ispica from the right side, between the Gisirella districts to the north and Calicantone to the south. The initial section was investigated at the beginning of the century by P. Orsi, who reported a hundreds of tombs from the early Sicilian period and the presence of late Roman funerary hypogea, which partly exploited the prehistoric tombs. The installation in more recent times of stone quarries along the course of the quarry led to the further destruction of the necropolis.

The largest group of tombs is concentrated in the northern branch of the head of the Lavinaro quarry: about forty-six have been recorded along the left side; along the opposite one twelve. About thirty present the canonical typology, with the succession of pavilion, anteroom and cell; the entrances to the cells open into large rectangular elevations with projecting cornices, in particular in the cases of tombs 22 and 28 on the left side and tombs 6 and 5 on the right. The pavilions are decorated with pilasters in tombs 24 and 25 excavated on the left side. The t. 25, illustrated by P. Orsi, has five pilasters, two on the left and three on the right, two of which are connected at the top by a horizontal rock riser. The t. 24, excavated in the crag above, is currently largely buried, has the façade decorated with six pilasters, three on the right and as many on the left of the entrance.

There are also numerous tombs with cells with niche: the t. 26 and t. 5 of the left side and the t. 6 and t. 7 of the right one; we also remember the t. 42, already illustrated by P. Orsi, with a large platform inside the cell. About fifteen tombs are devastated or buried, others are unreachable due to the dense vegetation. A dozen graves have been left in an incoative state: among these we note the t. 33, which has a large pavilion and an unfinished anteroom or cell beginning.

The tombs are all empty and had already been largely violated by the time of Orsi; the scholar explored sixteen tombs, but only in five he found from 2 to 15 skeletons and a few items of equipment with typical shapes of the Castelluccio vascular repertoire, flint razor blades and ornamental objects.

In the middle section of Cava Lavinaro, in the highest crags of the right side below the plateau of the Gisirella district, among the dense vegetation, there is a group of at least six tombs among which three (t. B3, t. B4 and t . B6) articulated with a pavilion, anteroom and cell; the t. B4, in particular, has a large pavilion with a well-squared cut.

Another group consisting of a dozen tombs is located on the opposite side, just below the plateau of the Calicantone district. Of note is the t. N11, with a façade decorated with three pilasters on the left of the entrance; other burials - t. N1, tombs N3-N4 and tombs N6-N9 - are of the canonical type with large pavilions, anteroom and cell, largely devastated; the t. N1, not far from the necropolis that follows, also has a cell with a niche.

Bibliography: P. ORSI, Cava d'Ispica - Sicilian, Christian, Byzantine relicsin  Not. sc. 1905, pp. 431-433, figs. 18-19; G. DI STEFANO, Archaeological Museum Ibleo, in AA.VV., Archaeological guides. Eastern Sicily and Aeolian Islands, Forlì 1996, pp. 312 and 314; BELLUARDO - CIAVORELLA, To search…, cit., pp. 28, 35-36; RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age ..., cit.


Calycanthon: IGM f ° 276 Cava Ispica I SE; Ispica II NE (plate III).

La necropolis di Calicantone, which consists of almost eighty tombs with artificial caves, is located on the right side of Cava Ispica, immediately downstream of the mouth of the Cava Lavinaro, near the path that leads to the so-called "Castle", a rock complex articulated on several floors12. About twenty tombs are divided into an anteroom and a cell; only one - t. 20 - has a niche in the cell; most of them are equipped with monumental pavilions with a rectangular or elliptical plan, with elevated edges. In particular, the t. 73 with a large elliptical pavilion and elevation with two quadrangular section pillars placed at the sides of the entrance, one of which is not completed. They have the façade decorated with two pilasters la t. 31 and t. 70. The t. 69, underground (you can see the antechamber and part of the cell), has the entrance bordered by wide and shallow cornices reminiscent of the tombs of the Middle Bronze Age.

The t. 57, equipped with a large pavilion, has an unusual decoration in the passage between the anteroom and the cell: the left jamb of the entrance is molded; this tomb has a cell with a sub-rectangular plan. About 27 tombs are with sub-circular cells with rectangular or oval entrances, with thresholds sometimes equipped with channels for the outflow of water; some, such as t. 28 and t. 39, have a bilobed plant. Eleven tombs appear to have been left in an incoative state.

Bibliography: the site of Calicantone does not seem to be known to the archaeological literature; nevertheless it is probable that the mention of EG PICONE should be attributed to this necropolis, Ispica (Calicantoni district)in  Journal of Prehistoric Studies XXX, 1975 (newsletter), p. 397, for the topographical indications contained therein, rather than to the more distant necropolis of Cava Lavinaro, although reference is made to the article by P. Orsi (Not. sc. 1905, cit.) In the text; for the tombs with pillars and pilasters, see RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age ..., cit.

Finocchiara: IGM f ° 276 Ispica II NE (table III).

A little one necropolis it is located in front of the so-called rupestrian castle, on the left side of Cava Ispica. It includes a dozen small, sub-circular tombs with devastated entrances, some of which have been left in an incoative state.

Grotticelle - Gabellazza di Sotto: IGM f ° 276 Ispica II NE (table III).

In this district of the upper part of the left side of the Cava Ispica one was excavated necropolis with artificial caves, near the rock church of Sant'Isidoro. The tombs, very scattered, amount to 22. Mostly they have a subcircular plan, convex walls and vaulted ceiling, in part they have been left in an incoative state and in part they have been devastated, so that only one tomb (t. 5) remains. integrates in its planimetric articulation with an anteroom with very curved walls with a cell with a subcircular plan, in another case - t. 11 - there seems to be a double-chamber cell. Of particular interest is the t. 1 for the monumental façade decorated with five partially corroded pilasters13.

Bibliography: signaling in BELLUARDO - CIAVORELLA, To search…, cit., p. 29; RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age ..., cit.

Stairs: IGM f ° 276 Ispica II NE (table III).

In this district there is one necropolis made up of more than seventy tombs, distributed in small groups in the rocky crags on the right side of the Cava Ispica, further downstream from the rupestrian “Castle”. The prevailing tomb typology is the canonical one with tombs divided into anteroom and cell, sometimes preceded by a large pavilion, as in the case of tombs 54 and 69, with monumental pavilions, respectively rectangular and forceps.

Among the tombs that present peculiarities in their planimetric articulation, the t. 9 which, inside the cell, has a large triangular shoulder ("L" shaped) quite similar to the t. 1 of the necropolis of Castelluccio di Noto14. The t. 62 has the façade decorated with four little raised and unfortunately very corroded pilasters. Tombs 29, 30 and 31, which are located nearby, have, in addition to a large pavilion, a semi-pillar placed laterally at the entrance; the t. 30, moreover, stands out in the panorama of Castelluccian funerary architecture for a decoration with rectangular section teeth, arranged horizontally on the sides of the entrance in the elevation of the deep pavilion. Tombs 21 and 49 show serious characters due to the articulation of the plant with niches on the back wall and on the left wall that bring them closer to the tombs of the late phase of the Castelluccian culture.15; the second has two mammelliform bosses on the façade, at the sides of the entrance16. These last two tombs are found in close proximity to three tholoi: in addition to tholos A (t. 18), already published17, the presence of the tholos B (t. 22) with a triple frame entrance, and of a third C (t. 19) which is inserted in a late Roman hypogeum and was almost completely devastated, but to indicate the conformation to tholos the ogive elevation of the wall remains.

However, in the necropolis of Scalepiane there is no shortage of oven tombs with a cell with a sub-circular plan. These tombs are about thirty, and among them we distinguish the t. 14 with niche on the back wall, t. 46 and t. 48 with an entrance that opens into a large rectangular pavilion. About fourteen graves have been left in an incoative state.

Bibliography: for the tholos A, v. L. GUZZARDI, A tholos tomb with a funeral bed in the Ispica quarryin  Nature Myth History in the Sican Kingdom of Kokalos, Proceedings of the Convention of Sant'Angelo Muxaro, 25-27 October 1996, in cds; IDEM, The Iblei area between the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age, in AA. VV., Indigenous civilizations and Greek cities in the Hyblean region, edited by L. Guzzardi, Ragusa 1996, p. 29, fig. 23; reporting of tholos B in VG RIZZONE - AM SAMMITO, Modica: a preliminary balance of archaeological research, in AA.VV., Urban archeology and historic centers in the Iblei, Ragusa, 1998, p. 17, note 10; for the tombs with decorated elevations, see RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age ..., cit.

Cava Minciucci - Crucifia: IGM f ° 276 Ispica II NE (table III).

The Minciucci quarry, separated from the Ispica quarry by the narrow saddle of the Scalepiane district, houses a necropolis with more than fifty tombs carved into the rock and arranged in small groups distributed along the two sides. The eastern side of the quarry includes about thirty tombs concentrated, for the most part, in two rock spurs, where they are arranged on several levels; the twenty-three tombs surveyed on the opposite side are arranged in a more disordered way, and only a small group (nos. 46-51) is placed around a rocky outcrop near the valley floor.

Few - nos. 5, 10, 15 and 19 - are the tombs divided into a pavilion, anteroom and a cell; the t. 14 and t. 20 have the jambs of the entrance to the cell very large, so that it is not possible to determine whether they are equipped with an anteroom. Some (nos. 3-4, 6-7 and 45) have the vestibule from which one passes directly to the cell. The cells are oven-shaped, very large, some with a lateral niche (t. 6). Three tombs are distinguished (t. 8, t. 9 and t. 50) for the bilobed plan of the cell. Other tombs, about eleven, are of the oven type with generally devastated entrances, or, if these are preserved, simply oval or rectangular (t.18): among these tombs n. 27-29 for the cells with a subcircular plan, with dimensions of about m. 2,20 / 2,50 in diameter. Thirteen tombs were left in an incoative state.

Bibliography: reporting of the site in BELLUARDO - CIAVORELLA, To search…, cit., p. 8 and passim.

Cave del Prainito and Palombieri

Cava del Prainito-Poor Women: IGM f ° 276 Cava d'Ispica I SE (table IV).

The Prainito quarry is located in the eastern part of the municipal territory of Modica, on the border with that of Rosolini. The quarry extends from north-west to south-east: in the northern part, also called Cava Cucco, is the Favarotta district already known archaeologically for the presence of a necropolis of the middle and final Bronze Age with two tholos largely devastated18.

The presence of funeral types attributable to the ancient Bronze Age, it is found much further downstream in the Mulino Grotte area. Along the path that climbs from the mill towards the Gesira plateau there are at least six artificial cave tombs. Two monumental tombs with a front decorated with pilasters (nos. 1 and 2) open on a cliff overlooking a wide rocky esplanade: the t. 1 with six pilasters in the façade, presents anteroom and cell. The t. 2 is decorated with five pilasters, two to the right and three to the left of the entrance; it has no anteroom and inside the cell has a circular plan. Two other tombs have been dug in the same rocky bank (nos. 3 and 4), others in the cliffs above. The tombs are few and scattered: there are also some on the left side (opposite) of the Cava: one (t. 7) with pavilion, open anteroom and cell with niche on the back wall, a second, t. 8 - pseudotholos - with a triple cornice entrance, which survived the hypogea and arcosolium excavated in the late Roman age, and a third - t. 9 - at the Prainito houses.

Bibliography: BELLUARDO - CIAVORELLA, To search…, cit., p. 37; RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age ..., cit.

 Gesira (Caggia): IGM f ° 276 Cava d'Ispica I SE (table IV).

In the Gesira district, between the Palombieri and Prainito quarries, there is a necropolis made up of more than eighty artificial caves. The tombs are arranged along two or three rocky crags.

Most of them have a very simple typology with sub-circular cells with generally flat ceilings, with rectangular entrances that sometimes open into large pavilions. Two tombs have pavilions decorated with pilasters: the t. 76, collapsed and buried on the right side, with a sturdy pilaster to the left of the entrance and the t. 41, with little raised pilasters and already remodeled during the ancient Bronze Age with the excavation, in the façade of the pavilion, of a second tomb (t. 42).

Other tombs open in a single pavilion, as in the case of tombs 77-78 and 71-72, similarly to the necropolis of Cava Baratta, near Augusta, where the use of placing the entrances in a single pavilion is documented19. Only thirteen tombs show the canonical typology, with the succession of pavilion, anteroom and cell; tombs 41, 45 and 27 also have a niche in the back wall. The t. 3 and t. 11 have the entrances to the anterooms very open, so that the lateral jambs look like pilasters that move the walls of the antechamber. In the t. 12 the closing slab in local limestone lying in front of the entrance is still preserved, the tomb, like all the others, has been violated. About five tombs have been left in an incoative state, while seven are buried or devastated.

A group of about five tombs (nos. 79-83) - with a more or less wide subcircular plan, with devastated entrances - is located at a distance from the main nucleus, obtained in the cliffs overlooking the Palombieri quarry. In this valley there are no conspicuous prehistoric testimonies: sparse tombs are present along the course of the Cava: pseudotholoi isolated are found in the intermediate area of ​​the Cava and, with a triple-framed entrance, at a Jewish funerary hypogeum, north of the Scalarangio district.

Bibliography: BELLUARDO - CIAVORELLA, To search…, cit., p. 29; RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age ..., cit.


Coastal and sub-coastal area

Gisana quarry: IGM f ° 276 Scicli II NO (table V).

In the intermediate section of the Gisana quarry, affected by the presence of caves of karst origin - one of which, located on the left side, has returned archaeological material from the Middle Bronze Age20 -, there are small groups of tombs obtained on the left side, which were already the subject of a first investigation in the 80s. A first group of five tombs (nos. 1-5) occupies a spur of rock in the upper part of the slope, among the dense vegetation, along a path that leads to the valley floor. These tombs have a simple ichnography, show rounded plants, the t. 5 seems inconsistent and only the t. 4 is finished with a rectangular entrance. At 150 m. about further downstream, in a small inlet, is the second group consisting of about sixteen tombs (nos. 6-21). They are partly devastated, the original entrances are not preserved, the cells are mainly circular with convex profile walls and vaulted ceilings. We distinguish the t. 16 for a rock bank placed on a portion of the back wall and the t. 9 (8 in Guzzardi's numbering) with a niche on the back wall. The t appears to be extraneous to the complex. 20 (15 in Guzzardi's numbering) with a completely devastated entrance, with a quadrangular plan and flat ceiling, attributable to a later period.

Bibliography: GUZZARDI, New data ..., cit., pp. 224-225.

Cell: IGM f ° 276 Scicli II NO (table V).

In the nearby district of Cella, located on the Modica-Pozzallo road, a plateau dominates a small valley with prehistoric and late antique archaeological remains (funerary hypogea). In a low rocky ridge there are only five tombs all close together. Two, mostly underground, are currently communicating; the third is of the canonical type with vestibule, anteroom and cell; but with the entrances of the anteroom and the cell partly devastated; two other tombs are presented in an incoative state.

In the same district Cella, downstream of the Brizza houses, near the confluence with the Cava Giarrusso, there are at least two other tombs, with a circular plan of about m. 1,50 in diameter, one of which with a niche. From this area comes a fuseruola preserved in the Museum of Modica.

Bellamagna - Benarifi: IGM f ° 276 Sampieri II SW (table VI).

The Bellamagna district, not far from the Modica-Pozzallo route, is located in an area which dominates almost the entire territory that slopes down to the sea and a large stretch of coast that goes from Porto Ulisse to Donnalucata.

The site is affected by a vast necropolis with artificial caves, partly reused from a late antique necropolis with small hypogea and sub-star pits: in fact, a niche has been obtained in the laying floor of tombs 65, 73 and 44. The tombs referable to the Castelluccian culture are mainly distributed above and below the Bellamagna - Zimmardo carriage road which cut through the necropolis. Eighty-seven tombs have been recorded, of which seventy-nine are located in the crags along this road and with a prevalent South and South-East orientation, the others are scattered disorderly along the arm of the road that bends towards the Benarifi houses and the Giarrusso quarry: some of they (tombs 85-87) were cut right from the road.

The canonical tomb typology is found in about thirty-four tombs; in the t. 44, t. 69 and t. 72 there are also niches. In particular, the t. 5 which has a recess, which almost acts as a frame, in the innermost entrance placed between the anteroom and the cell, the t. 15 and t. 17 with sub-rectangular plan cells. A group of tombs side by side - nos. 18, 19, 21, 23 and 26 - it has a common feature that is constituted by a channel that runs around the entrance and in some cases there is also a channel dug into the threshold: it seems that in this part of the rocky cliff it was particularly warned the problem of water runoff. Finally, the t. 42 for the entrance characterized by a frame and, above all, the t. 29 with a façade decorated with two pairs of pilasters on either side of the entrance.

Also interesting are some unsuccessful excavation attempts such as tombs 52, 71 and 77 with large pavilions, anterooms and therefore tiny unusable cells. In total the tombs left in an incoative state are a dozen. The rest of the tombs have a circular or sub-circular plan, of the oven type.

Bibliography: VG RIZZONE, Two castelluccian villages worthy of attentionin  The Page 28 November 1988; BELLUARDO - CIAVORELLA, To search…, cit., p. 29; RIZZONE - SAMMITO, Tombs of the ancient Bronze Age ..., cit.


Valentino - Petraro: IGM f ° 276 Sampieri II SW (table VI).

Among the sub-coastal settlements, those in the immediate hinterland of Pozzallo (Cozzo Rao and Carpintera) are worthy of note.21, of Ciarciolo, where there is an isolated tomb and, above all, the site of Valentino - Petraro on the border between the municipalities of Modica and Scicli, at the mouth of the Cava Labbisi. Here the area of ​​the Castellucciana necropolis was devastated by a late Roman hypogeum and, more recently, by two carriage roads, the Pozzallo-Sampieri railway and reclamation works. Of the necropolis, which, however, did not have to be very extensive, only three tombs remain, two of which have been left in an incoative state (t. 1 and t. 3); the t. 2, partially underground, consists of a rectangular pavilion, a sub-rectangular anteroom and an oven compartment. Traces of the settlement come from the plateau above, where they were recovered ceramic fragments flint preserved in the Museum of Modica. From this site it was recently reported the origin of a bone to blood cells.

Bibliography: RIZZONE, Two villages ..., cit .; for blood cell bone v. P. MILITELLO, Territorial dynamics between ancient bronze and Greek colonization: the case of Scicli, in AA. VV., Urban Archeology ..., cit., p. 51.






(1) For these problems, cf. the observations of E. PROCELLI, The Sicilian agro-pastoral civilization matures: the ancient Bronze Age, in AA.VV., First Sicily. At the origins of Sicilian society, edited by S. Tusa, Palermo 1997, p. 344.

(2) P. ORSI, Flint mines and Eeneolithic burial grounds at Monte Tabuto and Monte Racello near ComisoBulletin of Italian Palethnology XXIV, 1898, pp. 165-206; IDEM, Village, lithic workshop and Sicilian necropolis of the first period in Monte Sallia near Canicarao (Comiso)BPI XLIII, 1923, pp. 3-26; F. NICOLETTI, The Campignano of Sicily, in AA.VV., First Sicily ..., cit., pp. 400-403, which indicates the presence of two types of quarries for the Hyblean territory: open-cast quarries and underground mines. The former are widespread on the limestone plateau and are characterized by the surface discovery of core blanks, splinters of all kinds, cortices, split pebbles and basalt tools. The lack of associated clay material has led to think of the periodic exploitation of these mines not linked to permanent settlements. This is not the case with the our district for which we have already reported theabundance of clay material.

(3) See previous note.

(4) A complete review of the various forms of burial during the Early Bronze Age can be found in L. BERNABÒ BREA, Aeolian, Sicily and Malta in the Bronze Agein  Kokalos XXII-XXIII, 1976-1977, pp. 46-48; E. PROCELLI, Agro-pastoral civilization ..., cit., pp. 345-346; G. DI STEFANO - M. PISANI, Ancient Bronze Age burial rock architecture in eastern Sicilyin  Proceedings XIII Valcamonica Symposium 4 October 1996, in cds; R. LEIGHTON, Sicily before History, London 1999, pp. 121-132.

(5) There are also some materials recovered during the excavation work that took place to deepen the floor plan of the sacristy of the church of Santa Teresa carried out in April 1994, which are currently kept in the Civic Museum of Modica.

(6) They are distinguished in fact by their considerable size and shape tholoid which, in particular, two of these present: t. 23 is the largest with a circular cell of m. 2,50 in diameter and height of about m. 1,80. The t. 25 has a rectangular entrance, circular plan of m. 2,50 in diameter and height of m. 1,50, raised with convex profile with flat ceiling; on the back wall there is a raised niche with respect to the laying surface.

(7) L. PIGORINI, Storeroom of archaic bronzes near Modicain  BPI XXIV, 1898, p. 264; P. ORSI, Storerooms of Sicilian bronzesin  BPI XXVI, 1900, pp. 164-174 and 267-285; MINARDO, Cava d'Ispica, cit., pp. 79-82; L. BERNABÒ BREA, Sicily before the Greeks, Milan 19582, pp. 187-188; S. TUSA, Sicily in prehistoric times, Palermo 19922, pp. 619, 621, 634, here bibl. prev. which adde G. DI STEFANO, The territory of Camarina in the Archaic periodin  Kokalos XXXIII, 1987, pp. 139-140; ALBANESE PROCELLI, Storerooms of Sicilian bronzes in the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse, Palermo 1993, passim; C. GARDEN, Chronological framework. Cultural contacts in the field of metallurgy, in G. DI STEFANO, Scicli (Ragusa). The bronzes storage room in the Castelluccio sull'Irminio districtin  Not .. Sc. 1991, passim (here the same Giardino announced the publication S. TUSA - C. GIARDINO, The storage room of Modica); C. GARDEN, The Western Mediterranean between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries BC. Mining and metallurgical circles, Oxford 1995, passim.

(8) Within this necropolis two main groups are distinguished: the first is located in the lower crags of the right side, at the confluence of the Cava di Pietro in the Fiumara, in the property of Mr. Giuseppe Giunta, whom we thank for reporting it to us: these are five tombs with a rectangular entrance preceded by a rectangular pavilion provided laterally with holes for housing the closing posts; through a raised threshold you enter the cell with a quadrangular plan equipped with a quay, on average m. 0,16 and high m. 0,06, obtained along the left side. The second group is located further downstream, not far from the church of the Madonna della Scala: it is about a dozen typologically similar tombs: in fact they are all with rectangular cells with a depth ranging from m. 0,97 to m. 1,24 and with variable length from m. 1,60 to m. 1,80, flat ceiling and platform along the left side, the entrances are rectangular in shape preceded by long vestibules about m. 0,50. Only the t. 1 and t. 2 differ from the others: the first has a rounded plan with a niche on the back wall, the second has an irregularly oval plant about 2 m deep.


(9) The hypothesis has been advanced that the wall was used to close a space intended to group some houses together with livestock. This particular function of fences is also recognized in the walls of the villages of Valsavoia, Torricella and Monte Grande (PROCELLI, Agro-pastoral civilization ..., cit., p. 345); v. also G. CASTELLANA, The Castelluccio sanctuary of Monte Grande and the supply of sulfur in the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age, Palermo 1998, pp. 67-71.

(10) See P. ORSI, Pantalicain  Ancient Monuments of the Lincei XXI, 1913, col. 315, fig. X; L. BERNABÒ BREA, Akrai, Catania, 1956, p. 11, fig. 4.

(11) The t. 3 has a rectangular entrance bordered by a recess, circular plan with a patchy quay at the bottom, truncated cone elevation, flat ceiling; the t. 5 is made up of a rectangular entrance bordered by a recess, a circular plan with a raised niche on the left wall, a domed ceiling.


(12) G. DI STEFANO, Recent investigations on the rock settlements of the Ragusa areain  Rocky Sicily in the context of Mediterranean civilizationsProceedings of the VI International Study Conference on medieval rock civilization in Southern Italy, (Catania - Pantalica - Ispica, 7-12 September 1981), edited by CD Fonseca, Galatina 1986, pp. 257-258 and the previous bibliography there.


(13) Another group of oven-type tombs is located on the opposite side, in correspondence with the Tower of Scalepiane, the tombs are unreachable due to the dense vegetation; one of the few reachable shows a profile a pseudotholos.

(14) P. ORSI, The Sicilian necropolis of Castelluccio and Tremenzanoin  BPI XVIII, 1892, pl. I, tombs 1 and 6; cf. also the t. 42 of Cava Lavinaro: supra, and BEARS, Cava d'Ispica…, Cit., P. 433, fig. 19.

(15) See t. 34 of Castelluccio in ORSI, The Sicilian necropolis…. Cit., P. 75; A. CRISPINO, Prehistoric settlements in the middle valley of the Tellaro riverin  ISVNA Acts and Memoirs,1988-89, p. 63, note 29.

(16) See the tomb of Gisira di Brucoli in I. RUSSO - P. GIANINO, Mediterranean reduced megalithism. New acquisitions on monumental funerary architecture of the early metal age in the south-eastern cusp of Sicilyin  Syracusan Historical Archive s. III, VI, 1992, p. 13, pl. 6; the presence of these bosses also appears on the hatches, as in the case of the hatch of the t. 22 of Castelluccio di Noto in ORSI, The Sicilian necropolis... cit., P. 29, pl. V. See also tomb a tholos n. 3 of the Montagna Alta of Caltagirone in P. ORSI, Caltagirone. Sicilians and Greeks in Caltagironein  NSc., 1904, p. 76, fig. 17.

(17) The cup of the tholos falls within the type of those defined as pendulous or projecting and finds comparisons with the cup of tholos of Biddiemi near Scicli (A. LA ROSA, The necropolis of the latomie in c.da Biddiemi in Scicliin  Silenus II, 1976, p. 147) and with that of a tomb in Monte Tauro (R. LANTERI, Ancient settlements in the territory of Augusta: the tholoi of Monte Tauroin  Aitna 1, 1994, pp. 11-21).

(18) L. GUZZARDI, New data ..., cit., pp. 227-229, fig. 8. Further downstream, another coeval necropolis is located in the Spatacinta district: it is divided into two groups of typologically similar tombs with cells with circular or subcircular plants, truncated cone elevation and flat ceiling (so-called pseudotholoi) preceded by an articulated vestibule with three-fold entrance.

(19) R. LANTERI, New acquisitions on the early Bronze Age in the Hyblean area: the necropolis of Cava Baratta on the middle course of the Canterain  Arch. Hist. Sir., 1994, p. 12, for whose characteristics the Maltese megalithic temples of Mnajdra and Ggantija in Gozo have been called into question; cf. also the tombs of Cava Ternulla near Rosolini: BELLUARDO - CIAVORELLA, To search…, cit., p. 26, photo 10.

(20) GUZZARDI, New data …… ..cit., pp. 223-224, figs. 4-7.

(21) N. BRUNO, Topographical survey, in G. SLEEPING, Pozzallo: Mediterranean city, Modica 1991, p. 42.

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