Mozia

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Mozia (Sicilian: Mozzia) is a small island, formerly known as Motia and San Pantaleo in the Trapani province, in Sicily, Italy, lies in the Stagnone Lagoon, and is generally included as a part of the comune of Marsala.

Historical significance[edit]

Main article: Motya

Just 400,000 m² in size, the history of Mozia is very ancient: as a shipping centre and staging post, and due to its presence near the coast of an important trade city, it was one of the most important Phoenician and Carthaginian settlements in the Mediterranean area. The Phoenicians transformed the inhospitable island, which they called Motya, into one of the most affluent cities of its time, naturally defended by the lagoon as well as high defensive walls. Ancient windmills and salt pans were used for evaporation, salt grinding and refinement, and to maintain the condition of the lagoon and island itself. Recently the mills and salt pans (called the Ettore Infersa) have been restored by the owners and opened to the public.

In the 6th century BC, due to the struggles between ancient Greece and Carthage over Sicily, Motia sided with the Phoenicians and Carthaginians against the Greeks. The ancient settlement at Motia, founded in the 8th century BC, was destroyed by the Syracuse tyrant Dionysius the Elder in 379 BC.

During the Middle Ages, Basilican monks settled on the island and renamed it San Pantaleo, and in 1888 was rediscovered by Joseph Whitaker.

Current situation[edit]

The island of Mozia is owned and operated by the Whitaker Foundation (Palermo), famous for Marsala wines. Tours are available for the small museum, and the well-preserved ruins of a crossroads civilisation: in addition to the cultures mentioned above, Motian artifacts display Egyptian, Corinthian, Attic, Roman, Punic and Hellenic influences. The Tophet, a type of cemetery for the cremated remains of children, possibly as sacrifice to Tanit or Ba‘al Hammon, is also well known. Many of the ancient residences are open to the public, with guided tours in English and Italian.

References[edit]

Coordinates: 37°52′06″N 12°28′07″E / 37.86833°N 12.46861°E / 37.86833; 12.46861