Votive Metal Offerings from the so-called Ares Temple at Monte Casale (Syracuse, Italy). Evidence of Interaction between Greeks and Indigenous Peolple in the Archaic Eastern Sicily?
Monte Casale, the ancient Kasmenai, is located on an isolated hill in the hinterland of the south-eastern part of Sicily, in a strategic position on the border with the indigenous people. The site was a sub-colony of Syracuse and, according to literary sources, was founded in 643 BC. Monte Casale was firstly identified by Paolo Orsi who carried out archaeological excavations between 1922 and 1931. During the excavation of the western part of the site, the archaeologist discovered a sacred area with a votive deposit consisting originally of more than 400 metal objects, especially offensive iron weapons which led the archaeologist to attribute the temple to the cult of Ares. After Orsi’s research, Giuseppe Voza resumed the excavations on the site at the end of 1960s.
The main aim of this research project is to give new insights on the interaction between Greeks and indigenous people in a Greek polis located in a frontier zone by analysing votive practices through the study of metal offerings from the votive deposit of the sacred space. The metal objects – that have been considered marginal or less important in Sicily and Southern Italy for a long time – can give a new reassessment of sub-colonial history as already seen in Gela or Selinunt where the new approach to this material has questioned traditional assumptions on the relations among different groups (Greeks, indigenous people, Etruscans etc.) in the Greek poleis. Furthermore, the investigation of the religious forms of Casmene will improve our knowledge of the town planning and will produce a better understanding of the social identity of the worshippers who attended and donated at the sacred area.