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Adranon panorama with Etna
Adranon is located in Italy
Shown within Italy
LocationProvince of Catania
Coordinates37°40′N 14°50′E / 37.667°N 14.833°E / 37.667; 14.833Coordinates: 37°40′N 14°50′E / 37.667°N 14.833°E / 37.667; 14.833
TypeHuman settlement
FoundedNeolithic, Greek colonization
Site notes (Museo di Adranon)

Adranon (present day Adrano) is ancient polis[1] and archaeological site on the southwestern slopes of Mount Etna, near Simeto River, known for the "simetite" variety of amber"[2] northwest of Catania. The ancient city was founded by the ancient Greek ruler Dionysius I of Syracuse around 400 BCE[3] upon a pre-Hellenic neolithic settlement, near a temple dedicated to the god Adranus, worshiped throughout Sicily. Adranus was associated with volcanoes and equated eventually with Hephaestus.[4] The city was conquered by Timoleon at 343-342 BCE[5] and subjugated to Rome in 263 BCE.[6] Romans declared it a civitas stipendiaria (city that had to pay tribute to Rome).[7]

The archaeological site[edit]

The area of the archaeological site has been explored at the beginning of this century, but the first excavations took place in 1959. The perimeter of the walls is delimiting the ancient city in the East-West axis. On the south side of town, along the river, a steep ravine strengthened the defense of the city. The north side of the site is buried under modern buildings and constructions. The walls were built of ashlar stones of basalt and are in good condition on the east side. In the northeastern edge of the wall the existing rectangular tower is incorporated in St. Francis Church.[6]

From prehistory to the Classical Era[edit]

It seems that the Adranon region was inhabited in prehistoric times, as shown by recent findings of the Neolithic period in districts of the modern city. Traces also have been found of indigenous peoples human settlements during historic era. Not yet excavated, except for a small part, there is a native town of Mendolito region, connected to Adranon's topography, whose name remains unknown to date. According to Α. Franco this anonymous settlement of Contrada Mendolito is identified as Piakos,[8] (Ancient Greek: Πίακος[9]). G. K. Jenkins who published a coin with the obverse legend ΠΙΑΚΙΝΟΣ (PIAKINOS) and ΑΔΡΑΝ (ADRAN) on the reverse, recognized ΑΔΡΑΝ as ΑΔΡΑΝΟΝ (ADRANON), a numismatic evidence of connection between Piakos and Adranon.[10] Other researches identify ΑΔΡΑΝ[...] as ΑΔΡΑΝΙΤΩΝ, the ethnic in the genitive case.[11]

Important are the findings of the eighth or seventh century BCE, which include among others a treasure-trove of bronze artefacts and a gate of the city of 6th century BCE, with a Sicel inscription not yet deciphered. Several other finds in the area are now in the Archaeological Museum of Ardano.[12]

The exact location of the Temple of Adranus, whose cult probably linked to the activity of Etna, is still unknown. Sixteen basaltic pillars are now part of the internal structure of contemporary temple Chiesa Madre, standing next to the Norman castle in Umberto I Square. Therefore, it has been hypothesized that the temple of the Adranus is in the same area.[13] Among other finds, the settlement of Politselo region yielded a wonderful sample of Sicilian art of the fifth century BCE, the bronze figure of a naked athlete (exhibit at the Syracuse Museum).[citation needed]

Excavations of classical strata revealed so far residences of the 4th century BCE, with Italiote pottery red-figure of good style,[14] and interesting treasure of modern currencies. No other monument of the city is yet known. The polis minted coins during Timoleon's rule with the figure of Adranus the river deity. Two successive excavations have investigated the walls and part of the ancient cemetery lying southeast of the city (Sciare Manganelli). The graves belong to a type uncommon in Sicily, consisting of small circular structures in the lava stone that are vaguely reminiscent of Mycenaean domes (tholoi).[6]


  1. ^ Antonius Westerman, ed. (1839). Paradoxographi scriptores rerum mirabilium Graeci. Londini: Apud Black et Armstrong. p. 178.
  2. ^ "Simeto River, Catania, Sicily, Italy". January 26, 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  3. ^ Manganaro, Giacomo (Sant' Agata li Battiata). "Adranum (Hadranum)." Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider. Brill Online, 2016. Reference. 1 April 2016 <> First appeared online: 2006
  4. ^ Leighton, Robert (1999). Sicily Before History. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-8014-8585-5.
  5. ^ Berger, Shlomo. Revolution and Society in Greek Sicily and Southern Italy. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 78. ISBN 978-3-515-05959-6.
  6. ^ a b c Stillwell, Richard et al, eds. (1976). "Adranon". The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Plin. 3,91.
  8. ^ Franco, A. (1999). "La città del Mendolito: Τρινακίη?". Sicilia Archeologica (32): 199–210.
  9. ^ Byzantinus, Stephanus; Meineke, August (1849). Ethnica. 1. Berlin: Reimer. p. 522.
  10. ^ Jenkins, G. K. (1962). "Piakos". Schweizer Münzblätter (46): 17–20.
  11. ^ Pope, Spencer (2009). "New Coin Types in Late Fifth-Century Sicily". In Derek B. Counts and Anthony S. Tuck. KOINE Mediterranean Studies in Honor of R. Ross Holloway. Oxford and Oakville: Oxbow Books. pp. 135–136. ISBN 978 1 84217 379 4.
  12. ^ Facaros, Dana; Pauls, Michael (2008). Sicily. London: New Holland Publishers. p. 319. ISBN 978-1-86011-397-0.
  13. ^ Babel Translations (Firm) (1985). Italy, a Phaidon Cultural Guide. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. p. 13. ISBN 9780135067345.
  14. ^ Birch, Samuel (1858). History of ancient pottery. II. London: John Murray. p. 173.

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