Mount Sabucina is located about 10 km northeast of Caltanissetta. Officially declared a Regional Archaeological Park by decree in 2001, together with the nearby Mount of Capodarso, the mountain constitutes a single system overlooking the valley of the Salso river, the ancient Himera.
Its plateau, at 720 m a.s.l., has constituted over time an important point of control and domination of the trade routes that crept into the territory of ancient Sikania. This characteristic has not escaped the populations that have inhabited this territory from the Ancient Bronze Age until the Roman Age. The first archaeological investigations date back to the 60s of the last century by Piero Orlandini.
The Bronze Age
The very first site of the Ancient Bronze Age, at the foot of Mount Sabucina, is composed of several villages corresponding to the prehistoric culture of Castelluccio. Later, around the XIII century B.C., the village moved to the hillsides, probably for defensive reasons. Between the XIII and the X century the inhabited area, attributable to the facies of North Pentalica, evolved.
This unique large settlement consists of circular huts, placed both on the platform and on the slope of the hill. Among the huts, moreover, there are hypogea dug into the rock, used as burial places, deposits or shelters for animals. Lastly, some of the huts display moulds and ceramic objects that indicate their function as metallurgical workshops and ceramic workshops. During the X and IX centuries B.C., the huts were built with dry stone walls and the built-up area was more modest in size. Moreover, the site, equipped with terraces and small channels, was part of the cultural horizon of Cassibile.
Mount Sabucina in the Iron Age
Between the VIII and VII century B.C. a new settlement was established on the top and slopes of Mount Sabucina. The houses are rectangular in plan and the inhabited area seems to be organized in specialized areas. In the sacred area there are two shrines, perhaps dedicated to the Chthonian divinities, which have been enlarged and modified over time.
Of considerable interest is one of the cells, which is oriented towards the east. It is a circular cell, built with irregular stones and reinforced at the base by a second ring that doubles the wall thickness. The remains tell us that it is a structure in antis (two columns on the front): this testifies the contacts between the indigenous world and the Greek one. The famous “Shrine of Sabucina” also comes from the sacred area: a clay model on a high foot of a small temple in antis with a rectangular plan, whose sloping roof is surmounted by figures of knights and decorated on the forehead by two gorgons.
The classic face of Sabucina
The process of Hellenization, attested by the “Shrine of Sabucina”, ends around the VI century B.C., with the arrival of Rhodium-Cretan settlers from Gela. The settlement, even though it has fortification walls in the Greek style, lacks a regular urban plan. In fact, it appears as an agglomeration of irregular streets and alleys. This polis was violently destroyed by Ducezio in the V century B.C., during the uprising of the Sicilian cities against the Greeks.
During the IV century, like many other towns on the island, Sabucina also was repopulated with new settlers by Timoleon. The city was also rebuilt and protected with powerful fortified walls and equipped with rectangular and semicircular towers. After 310 B.C. the site was abandoned and the population returned to live at the foot of the mountain.
In Roman times, especially during the Imperial Age, the inhabitants continued to live in villas and dwellings that extended to the foot of Mount Sabucina. The residential centre of Piano della Clesia and the necropolis in the Lannari district, where the marble bust of Emperor Geta (209 – 212 A.D.) was found, testify to the continuity of life on the site.