1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Augusta (Sicily)

AUGUSTA, a seaport of the province of Syracuse, Sicily, 19 m. N. of it by rail. Pop. (1901) 16,402. It occupies a part of the former peninsula of Xiphonia, now a small island, connected with the mainland by a bridge. It was founded by the emperor Frederick II. in 1232, and almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 1693, after which it was rebuilt. The castle is now a large prison. The fortified port, though unfrequented except as a naval harbour of refuge, is a very fine one. There are considerable saltworks at Augusta. To the south, on the left bank of the Molinello. 1½ m. from its mouth, Sicel tombs and Christian catacombs, and farther up the river a cave village of the early middle ages, have been explored (Notizie degli Scavi, 1902, 411, 631; Römische Quartalschrift, 1902, 205). Whether there was ever a town bearing the name Xiphonia is doubted by E. A. Freeman (Hist. of Sic. i. 583); cf., however, E. Pais, Atakta (Pisa, 1891), 55, who attributes its foundation, under the name of Tauromenion (which it soon lost), to the Zancleans of Hybla (afterwards Megara Hyblaea).  (T. As.)