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  • David Trump

Cave site in the northern slope of Monte Pellegrino 8 km north of Palermo on the north coast of Sicily. It contains a number of prehistoric figures engraved in the surface of a smooth slab of rock on the left-hand side, which were revealed when a layer of stalagmite was detached by exploding ammunition in the 1940s. The earliest, lightly incised group includes horses, cattle, a hind and a woman carrying a bundle. The main group consists of ten male figures, each about 250 mm high, and a larger figure of a deer. The outlines of the former are bold and assured, though the heads are invariably crude, often animal- or bird-like; hands and feet were simply omitted. Later two bovids were added; these are much more roughly drawn. All had been covered by the stalagmite, which must have taken many centuries, if not millennia, to form. A date of c. 12,000 bp seems likely, since flints of this period were found in an adjacent cave. However, the scenes cannot be matched closely in comparable painted and engraved caves of France and Spain (see Prehistoric Europe, §II, 2). Even the rarer Italian examples, such as those at Romanelli, near Lecce, and Genovesi, Levanzo, contain nothing quite like them. The interpretation of the figures at Addaura is particularly controversial. The human figures stand, walk, crouch or lie on their faces, apparently painfully trussed; but it is not clear whether the artist intended them to be viewed as a single scene, perhaps of dancing or sacrifice, or as individual unrelated figures. The effect is powerful, but nevertheless it remains puzzling.


  • I. Marconi Bovio: ‘Incisioni rupestri all’ Addaura (Palermo)’, Bullettino di paletnologia italiana, 8/5 (1953), pp. 5–22
  • L. Bernabò Brea: Sicily (London, 1957), pp. 32–3
  • J. Hawkes: Atlas of Ancient Archaeology (London, 1974), p. 98