History of Sicily
2 The First Peoples: 2.7.4 The Ible of Sicily

How many were the Ible of Sicily?

Among the first cities of Sican or Sicilian origin, the cities named Ibla deserve a separate mention, if only for the confusion that has occurred and still exists in relation to the location and the right name to be given to each Ibla. In fact we talk about:

  • Ibla major,
  • Ibla Tiella or Stiella,
  • Ibla Minor,
  • Ibla the little one,
  • Ibla the least,
  • Ibla Nera,
  • Gibla,
  • Ibla Herea or Hera,
  • Ibla Gereatis,
  • Ibla Galeotis,
  • Ibla Galeonte, or simply
  • Ibla or Hibla.

Historians have often used these names and this at first glance would suggest a myriad of Ible existing in Sicilian soil, in reality all these names refer to three, perhaps four, distinct Ible, and almost all of Sicilian origin. The oldest writers in the history of Sicily have at times contributed to increasing the existing confusion on the Ible, sometimes citing one instead of the other, or omitting the nickname that distinguished them. Just think of the "sweet Ibleo honey", which has been attributed to practically all the Iblei mentioned above. Another confusion has been made by the various copyists who, in transcribing texts, often in a language other than their own, have made it so, for example, that Hibla became Gibla or Herea became Nerea and therefore Nera. Furthermore, in recounting the events, the dialectal form of the various writers often prevailed, for which a term or a name was written in different ways depending on the nation of origin of the writer, this probably happened for the terms Galeote, Galeotide, Geleotide, and Gereatide.

The three Ibles

Most of the writers of antiquity, however, agree that only three were the Ible in Sicily [1], and there are many who indicate the three Ible in:

Ibla Maggiore;

Ibla The small;

Ibla Minor.

The Maggiore was perhaps called Tiella (or Stiella) and it is widely believed to place the site near Paternal. The little one was also called the Minima, whose site is supposed to be that of Megara Iblea which, as it is known, is south of Augusta, when it concerns Ibla Minore, many agree that Ibla Erea has also been appealed because it is located on the erei mountains, perhaps mistakenly also called Ibla Nera, Gibla or Nibla, and yes thinks the site is that of Ragusa Ibla.

Megara Iblea

Pantalica, a fourth Ibla?

For a couple of years we have begun to think that Pantalica, a place located approximately halfway between Palazzolo Acreide and Syracuse, where a large prehistoric necropolis was found, has the right to be appealed as Ibla, even if it has not sure, in case he is also entitled to one of the aforementioned nicknames, which of these to associate it with. The fact that Pantalica is in the mountains that have been chianmati Erei, could suggest that the nickname is Herea, thus removing this privilege from Ragusa, or in trying to solve a question that has been going on for centuries, one could think of Galeote, in fact in the past much confusion has been made in the attempt to assign a site to Ibla Galeote, and the attempt made so far by historians has not been the most fortunate. Beyond the name, a series of elements reinforce the hypothesis that Pantalica was one of the Sicilian Ibles.

Pantalica - North necropolis

Tucidite [2] tells that a contingent of Megarese colonists would have founded their own city by concession of Iblone Sicilian king of Ibla, to which they gave the name of the mother country Megara and the appellative of Iblea to remember the gift of the land made by the king, the Thucydides himself fixes the chronology to 729 BC The archaeological excavations so far do not seem to deny Thucydides, in fact most of the remains can be dated from the VIII to the V century. BC The excavations on Megara and Pantalica seem to agree with Thucydides, in fact if in Megara the archaeological remains are mainly Greek and do not seem to indicate a large settlement prior to the eighth century BC, in Pantalica everything seems to indicate the opposite, in fact the site of Pantalica can be considered as one of the most important protohistoric settlements in eastern Sicily. Two periods of Sicilian protohistory take their name from the necropolis of the town, that of the final bronze of Pantalica Nord (XIII-XI) BC and that of the iron of Pantalica Sud (850-730 BC), some terraces erected to support a building have been found monumental on the top of the hill, which has been defined as the seat of the prince of the town.

Prince's Palace

Over 5000 tombs have been found surrounding the town; those in the north and west are from the 850th and 730th centuries BC, the group of tombs to the south belong to 1000,850-XNUMX BC, while others are from the intermediate period (XNUMX BC).

Pantalica: Necropolis of Filipporto

The fact that an indigenous center should exist near Megara Iblea of ​​the Greeks, could be confirmed by the not rare custom of the Greeks, to establish themselves not far from an indigenous center, keeping their territory distinct from that left in the hands of the indigenous peoples. What seems very strange is that the inhabited area seems to disappear in conjunction with the foundation of Megara Iblea and Syracuse, which would suggest that the inhabitants suffered the same fate as the Sicilians expelled from the island of Ortigia, pushed towards the interior of Sicily. Traces have been found that would indicate a minimum of attendance following the arrival of the Greeks, a small sanctuary frequented in Greek and Roman times, could be the sign of the continuation of an indigenous cult, traces of Byzantine attendance were also found in the building that it is supposed to have belonged to the prince of the Sicilian town.

Pantalica: Byzantine village

The Cult of Ibla

The hypotheses on why there were more Ible in Sicily are many and unfortunately they remain so. Solarino [3] suggests that in the period of the Sicani and the Siculi, there must have been many sanctuaries dedicated to the cult of the goddess Ibla and that some of them were later concentrated on inhabited centers. In reality it must be said that unfortunately there is no certain information on the cult of a divinity named Ibla. (in this regard, see the "The Cult of Ibla"


Coin of Ibla

Di Blasi [4], citing the historian Pausanias, writes that in Ibla Galeote there was a temple dedicated to the goddess Ibla and that the goddess was venerated by a corporation of priests, diviners and experts in interpreting dreams. These priests were called "Galeots". Instead, we have news of various localities or cities with a similar name, an Irish locality inhabited by the Celts was called Ibla or Iblana, and a very famous Ebla existed in Syria even before in Sicily we could speak of Sicani and Siculi. The ancient Syrian city was unearthed in 1968 by the archaeologist Paolo Matthiae. The first settlements in Syrian Ebla are traced back to 3000/3500 BC and around 2600 BC Ebla had a great political and commercial role in the area, becoming very powerful. It was first destroyed around 2300/2200 BC, and after a phase of regrowth, it was destroyed again in 1600 BC. Following the latest destruction, the city was almost completely abandoned, losing its inhabitants over the course of a few centuries.

Ebla - Syria

It is probable that among the peoples who came to our areas in the second millennium BC, there were groups from the powerful Ebla. It is also conceivable that some of these groups, once they arrived at their destination, somehow wanted to keep a memory of the powerful homeland, nothing strange therefore, that this memory then turned into the cult of a deity or in some cities with the same name of the ancient homeland then transformed into Ibla.

[1] Raffaele Solarino: The Modica County vol. 1 p. 96

[2] Thucydides lib VI.3

[3] Raffaele Solarino: The Modica County vol. 1 p. 77

[4] Giovanni E. Di-Blasi: History of the kingdom of Sicily. vol I. pag. 62


History of Sicily by Ignazio Caloggero

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