History of Sicily
1 Prehistoric Sicily
1.3.4: Metal Age: Art during the Metal Age

The artistic testimonies of this period are many, as evidenced by the innumerable finds in almost all of Sicily. Art is often linked to religious sentiments and funerary rites even if the finds of objects destined for personal use such as necklaces, rings and pendants are frequent.

Furniture art is very rich, anthropomorphic statuettes, amulets, idols, the aforementioned "globule bones" but also tomb doors such as those of Castelluccio to indicate that sculpture also finds its place in the art of the copper age.


Castelluccio tomb door


Castelluccio ceramic

The art represented by ceramic objects has been affected since the beginning of the Eneolithic period by the contacts that Sicily has with the Aegean world as evidenced by finds in almost all of Sicily. Later, at the beginning of the ancient bronze, we witness the so-called "culture of the bell-shaped glass", coming from central Europe, it owes its name to the so-called "popoplo of bell-shaped glasses" whose name is due to the shape of the clay vessels found in many burials relating to this people. The decoration of these vases, which were generally red in color, was done, as for the impressed ceramics, by engraving on the surface not yet fired, the white mixture used to fill the engravings and geometric designs made these vases products very delicate workmanship.


"Bell-shaped glass"




Culture of the "Bell-shaped glass"

 Rock art is present in the cave of the island of Levanzo where about sixty figures, humans and animals testify as the place, already known for the examples of rock art of Neolithic period, it is still home to artistic events. Other examples of rock art can be found in the Cavalli Cave in the peninsula of San Vito Lo Capo in the Province of Trapani.



Golden mask of Agamemnon from the royal tombs of Mycenae, 1600 BC Athens

The finds of bronze objects among the most beautiful are those found in the advanced phase of the Iron Age (VIII, VII and VI century BC). Embossed bronze sheets with anthropomorphic decorations were found in the Catania area (Mendolito) and in the Palermo (Petraia-Sottana). Bronze statuettes probably linked to the fertility cults have been found in Vizzini (CT), Polizzello (Mussomeli - CL) and Plemmyrion (SR) where the male bronze represents a naked male figure masturbating.


Male bronze statue of Plemmyrion (Syracuse)

An example representation of a stylized human figure is the trident bronze statue found in Polizzello.


Bronzetto with trident

Gold objects also begin to appear, such as the two solid gold seal rings found in S. Angelo Muxaro (AG) on which figures of animals are engraved, a cow suckling a calf in the first and a wolf in the second.


S. Angelo di Muxaro: Seal Rings

Also in S. Angelo Muxaro were found four gold cups embossed with a procession of six cattle in which the bull heads are of Cretan type and attributed to a local craft of Mycenaean tradition. One of these cups, perhaps the only surviving one, is in the British Museum in England [1]


S. Angelo di Muxaro: Golden cup

[1] Sabatino Moscati: The Mediterranean Civilization p.374 


History of Sicily by Ignazio Caloggero 


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