added by archaeologs A Corinthian colony and principal port founded traditionally c 734 BC on the east coast of Sicily. The earliest occupation was on the island of Ortygia; later settlement was on the mainland in the Achradina area. Early Palaeolithic material occurs in the Great Harbor. Syracuse was the leader of Greek cities in Sicily and had many struggles with Athens and Carthage, becoming capital of Roman Sicily in the 3rd century BC. Siding with Hannibal in the Second Punic War was a mistake which led to a long siege by Rome. In the early Christian era, Syracuse became something of a religious center, and there are extensive catacombs. From the 5th century onward, the city's civilization disintegrated under the general chaos of the western empire. Surviving remains include the archaic Doric temples of Zeus and Apollo, Temple of Athena, the Greek theater, and a 3rd-century AD amphitheater. Evidence also survives for an extensive fortification system of Epipolae, a triangular-plan rocky plateau which was unified with the city in some 27 km of walling; the Fort of Euryalos was at the highest point.
added by archaeologs A Greek colonial settlement and principal port on the east coast of Sicily, and later capital of Roman Sicily. Earliest occupation seems to be on the island of Ortygia which helps to enclose the Great Harbour, where some early Palaeolithic material occurs. It is likely that a native settlement preceded the arrival of the Greeks, but perhaps not by more than a century or two. The traditional date for the Greek colony is around 734 bc, and foundation is attributed to Corinthians. Early tyrants and leaders extended the power and influence of Syracuse: Gelon against the Carthaginians at Himera in 480 bc, Hieron I against the Etruscans in a naval engagement off Cumae in 474 bc, and Hermocrates against the Athenian Sicilian Expedition of 415, when large numbers of prisoners were incarcerated in the Latomie stone quarries. Darker moments, however, came with characters such as Agathocles, a sadist of a professional soldier who managed to gain control over most of Sicily (see Segesta). Siding with Hannibal in the Second Punic War was a mistake which led to a long siege by Rome, when even Archimedes’ brilliant gadgets, such as man-grabbing clamps, could not delay Roman capture. Roman rule of Sicily was undistinguished and poorly organized, with two Slave Wars and the extortions of Verres (chronicled by Cicero) to its discredit. Augustus established a colonia at Syracuse in 21 bc and the early imperial period saw a modest return to prosperity. In the early Christian era, Syracuse became something of a religious centre, and there are extensive catacombs. From the 5th century onward, the city’s civilization disintegrated under the general chaos of the western empire, and eventually and progressively the surviving population sought refuge in rock-cut housing and churches in the hinterland. Surviving remains include the archaic Doric temples of Zeus and of Apollo, the Temple of Athena which is ingeniously incorporated into the Cathedral, the Greek theatre, and a 3rd-century ad amphitheatre. Evidence survives also for the amazingly extensive fortification system of Epipolae, a triangularplan rocky plateau which was unified with the city in some 27 km of walling, with the Fort of Euryalos at the highest point.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983