Bronte's history

A short History of Bronte

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Bronte's History

The Roman period

Very little testimonies are in Bronte of the Roman period, except some military station (castrum) and outposts in banked places along the ancient consular roads, risen to oppose the raids of the Syracuse's armies in the territories around mount Etna.

The presence of Romans in our territory is testified by Benedetto Radice in his Historical memories of Bronte: he talks about a place ("where has never stood archaeologist's eye") where "two beautiful Roman mosaics of the low empire, illustrated with animals and human figures" were found.

The precious floor was found in Erranteria district, near the Nelson Castle, in April of 1905, while working in the fields.

On that occasion were found and measured remains of walls of a building composed by three rooms (two rectangular and one circular) adorned by floors in polychrome mosaic .

The mosaic of the larger room was especially interesting with octagonal squares, figures of animals and male and female bodies.

The works were immediately suspended, the three rooms measured and the polychrome mosaics were photographed, and examined in-place, by the famous archaeologist Paolo Orsi.

The Orsi describes also the figures placed at the center of the medallions and the squares (in the relation that kept and published in 1905, in the booklets XI – XII of the Lincei Academy):
The room is decorated with a "floor in polychrome mosaic work, made of marble, silicon, limestone, and igneous rock plugs; the field is divided by fillets into medallions and octagonal squares ...".

The Orsi describes also the figures put at the center of medallions and squa­res: «... a running Billy goat, surrounded by four Salomon's knots, ...two female, one virile bodies,.. two geese, a wolf, a bird on the branches, a roe deer. two rosette and a jellyfish ...»

He concludes writing that «the technique of the mosaic alludes to the times of Roman decadence».

The work on the field was suspended immediately.

Again the professor Orsi, in his relation, promised a campaign of excavations for the autumn of the same year, after what he «would have been able to give better information about the shape, destination and age of this building».

On a probable reconstruction of the three rooms in the Roman edifice, now completely destroyed by the bulldozers, the plan was realized on the measures taken by the archaeologist Orsi in 1905.

On the right, the fillets in medallions and the octagonal squares of the Roman mosaic found in Erranteria district near the Nelson Duchy, (the bron­tese historian Benedetto Radice tells us about it and the image is taken from his book "Historical memories of Bronte").


A small sacrifice altar and a millstone abandoned in the fields.

Piccolo altare sacrificale

La macina

From the 1905, year of the finding, passed in vain a fourth of century: the suspension of the work lasted, in fact, until the time n which Benedetto Radice lived (1927).

Later, unfortunately, both the remains of the building and the mosaics were literally forgotten, disappeared destroyed or buried by the bulldozers.

Even today, as writes Massimo Frasca Of The University Of Catania, it is still possible «to identify a wide strip of ground, in an olive groove, characterized by a big amount of roofing tiles fragments and achromatic ceramics with red surface, typical of the Roman period. ...Surface recoveries show, in unequivocal way, that here (in Erranteria district) there must have been a large house complex of Roman age» (Bronte News, October 1991).

Up to today (February 2006), the revenue guard corps has again brought to the attention of public opinion and experts of the existence of a roman villa discovered by Orsi. During an inspection with the local authorities have also shown the remains of a wall, a small sacrifice altar and a millstone abandoned in the fields, among olive trees, and recovered by the guards in February of 2006.

Translated by Sam Di Bella

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