Archaeologists Unearth New Building in Sicily’s Valley of the Temples

A previously unknown building has been identified by archaeologists working in Sicily’s Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Italy, according to a new study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. The structure may have been part of religious practices in the ancient city.

Originally founded as a Greek colony known as Akragas around 580 BCE, the Valley of the Temples is today one of the region’s most treasured ruins, and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. Though it was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 406 BCE, it later prospered under Roman rule.

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In the 19th century, parts of the ancient city were first excavated—efforts which continued into the 20th century. It has not been excavated in its entirety, however.

The team found the building beneath the soil using geophysical survey techniques across a 32,292 square-foot area that created a map of possible underground remains. Based on size and shape, these anomalies seemed to be buried structures.

While doing a test excavation, the team discovered a large stone block wall. There, they also found remnants of a domestic kiln from another time period.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of discovering a hitherto unknown monument in a crucial part of the city, possibly related to the nearby sanctuary,” Sebastiano Imposa, an associate professor of applied geophysics at the University of Catania and a member of the research team, told the Art Newspaper. “This could give us a better understanding of the city’s religious topography and help us determine the different phases of construction that took place in this area—located between a sacred sector and a residential district.”

Though the function and date of the building remains unclear, it maybe have been part of a larger structure. The team should learn more as excavations continue next April.

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