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Akragas [Lat. Agrigentum; now Agrigento]locked

  • Erik Østby

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[Lat. Agrigentum; now Agrigento]

Greek colony on the southern coast of Sicily. Believed to have been founded c. 580 bc from Gela, a city further down the coast, it flourished as an independent state until 406 bc, when it was sacked by the Carthaginians. It maintained some degree of independence until the Roman conquest of Sicily in 210 bc. The extensive town, lying some 2 km from the sea, was enclosed by walls following natural precipices and includes a steep acropolis now occupied by the modern settlement. Only a small part of the residential area has been excavated, dating to the Hellenistic and Roman periods; it was organized in regular, rectangular blocks after the Hippodamian system (see Hippodamos).

An early column capital, probably made immediately after the foundation of Akragas, is the only remaining example of Doric architecture from the site before c. 500 bc. Small temple buildings without columns were constructed in several locations later occupied by monumental temples. A cluster of such buildings of different shapes, some of them probably unroofed, occupied a sanctuary to the fertility gods in the south-west corner of the town, with round and rectangular monumental altars. Near the east gate, on the edge of the acropolis, a small fountain sanctuary with sacred caves precedes and is associated with a large Temple of Demeter (...

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