Thursday, January 19, 2006

Evidence of pre-Greek civilization discovered in Sicily's Valley of Temples : "Archaeologists working in Sicily's Valley of the Temples have found traces of a settlement thought to pre-date the famous Greek temples built there in around 600 BC .

The valley near Agrigento on Sicily's southern coast is one of Europe's most important archeological sites. It marks a sacred area built when Greeks landed there to start the civilisation of Magna Grecia in southern Italy .

The discovery of a structure possibly built before the Greeks arrived came during preparatory work ahead of a project to shore up the ground near the Temple of Hera. Archaeologists uncovered a mysterious walled structure on top of which ancient Greeks had apparently built a shrine and a burial ground .

Until now it has been thought that Agrigento was settled by the Greeks soon after they began starting colonies in much of the Mediterranean in the 7th century BC .

Pietro Meli, head of the agency which administrates the Valley of the Temples archaeological park, noted that the settlement appeared to have been built along the line of the ancient road to Gela, a town about 70 km southeast of Agrigento ."