Open main menu

SOLUNTUM (Gr. ∑ολὁεις or ∑ολοῦς), an ancient town of Sicily, one of the three chief Phoenician settlements in the island, situated on the north coast, 10 m. E. of Panormus (Palermo), 600 ft. above sea-level, on the S.E. side of Monte Catalfano (1225 ft.), in a naturally strong situation, and commanding a fine view. The date of its first occupation is, like that of Panormus, unknown. It continued to be a Carthaginian possession almost uninterruptedly until the First Punic War, when, after the fall of Panormus, it opened its gates to the Romans. In the Roman period it seems to have been of no great importance; an inscription, erected by the citizens in honour of Fulvia Plautilla, the wife of Caracalla, was found there in 1857. It was perhaps destroyed by the Saracens and is now entirely deserted. Excavations have brought to light considerable remains of the ancient town, belonging entirely to the Roman period, and a good deal still remains unexplored. An archaic oriental Artemis sitting between a lion and a panther, found here, is in the museum at Palermo, with other antiquities from this site. With the exception of the winding road by which the town was approached on the south, the streets, despite the unevenness of the ground, which is in places so steep that steps have to be introduced, are laid out regularly, running from east to west and from north to south, and intersecting at right angles. They are as a rule paved with slabs of stone. The houses were constructed of rough walling, which was afterwards plastered over; the natural rock is often used for the lower part of the walls. One of the largest of them, with a peristyle, is currently, though wrongly, called the Gymnasium. Near the top of the town are some cisterns cut in the rock, and at the summit is a larger house than usual, with mosaic pavements and paintings on its walls.  (T. As.)