On to Piazza Armerina and Siracusa, Sicily

Leaving Agrigento this morning, we went on to Piazza Armerina, and from there southeast to Siracusa, mentioned in Acts 28:12. While at Piazza Armerina we visited the Roman Villa of Casale. A portion of the Roman wall and one of the entrances is seen here:

Entrance to Roman Villa of Casale in Piazza Armerina, Sicily. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Entrance to Roman Villa of Casale in Piazza Armerina, Sicily. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The largest mosaic in the world, a hunting scene, is here.

Mosaic Hunting Scene. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Mosaic Hunting Scene. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This villa, as was generally the case when there was running water, was serviced by lead pipes, which caused the inhabitants to have lead poisoning.

Lead pipe at Villa of Casale. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Lead pipe at Villa of Casale. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We are looking forward to touring Siracusa tomorrow, as well as Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest and most active volcano.

For now, here is further info re: the Roman villa of Casale:

The Villa Romana del Casale  is a Roman villa built in the first quarter of the 4th century and located about 3 km outside the town of Piazza Armerina, Sicily, southern Italy. It contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world, and has been designated as one of 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy.

Plan of the villa
The villa was constructed (on the remains of an older villa) in the first quarter of the 4th century AD, probably as the center of a huge latifundium (agricultural estate) covering the surrounding area. How long the villa had this role is not known, maybe for fewer than 150 years. The complex remained inhabited and a village grew around it, named Platia (derived from the word palatium (palace). The villa was damaged and perhaps destroyed during the domination of the Vandals and the Visigoths. The outbuildings remained in use, at least in part, during the Byzantine and Arab periods. The site was abandoned in the 12th century AD after a landslide covered the villa. Survivors moved to the current location of Piazza Armerina.

The villa was almost entirely forgotten, although some of the tallest parts of the remains were always above ground. The area was cultivated for crops. Early in the 19th century, pieces of mosaics and some columns were found. The first official archaeological excavations were carried out later in that century.

The first professional excavations were made by Paolo Orsi in 1929, followed by the work of Giuseppe Cultrera in 1935-39. The last major excavations took place in the period 1950-60. They were led by Gino Vinicio Gentili, after which a cover was built over the mosaics. In the 1970s Andrea Carandini carried out a few localized excavations at the site. (Wikipedia)

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