Hellenistic Roman Quarter

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The Hellenistic-Roman quarter is an extraordinary testimony of the ancient urban fabric of the city of Agrigento. The buildings unearthed during excavations in the 1950s tell us how life was organized in the ancient city of Akragas. They also tell us what patterns were followed in the design of the urban layout. In addition to twenty-seven dwellings with magnificent mosaics and decorations, we can also admire other types of buildings such as sales counters, warehouses and wells.

History and structure of the Hellenistic-Roman Quarter of Agrigento

The archaeological area of the Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento covers about 15 thousand square meters within the Valley of the Temples Park. This urban sector came to light following archaeological excavations aimed at identifying ancient Agrigento (Akragas). The first urban settlements date back to the Hellenistic period, around the 4th century BC. On top of this urban layout is the Roman quarter, which was created by the expansion and modification of existing dwellings around the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The layout of the neighborhood reflects the dictates of Hippodamus of Miletus, a Greek urban planner of the 5th century BC. His model included an orthogonal grid of main streets (platêiai) and side streets (stenōpói) that divided the space into regular square blocks. The Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento consisted of twenty-seven dwellings (domus) arranged in three blocks (insulae) and bounded by four north-south street axes called cardines.

The dwellings of the quarter

The dwellings in the Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento are of different types. Some have a peristyle, following a purely Hellenistic tradition, while others have an atrium characterized by an Italic-type impluvium, either with a peristyle or simply surrounded by compartments. During the imperial period, several modifications or additions were made to the Hellenistic dwellings. Mosaics were added to the floors and frescoes and stucco decorations were added to the walls. In the House of the Swastikas, the House of the Gazelle and the House of the Master of Abstraction there are real mosaic carpets with geometric, plant and zoomorphic motifs. In addition to the residential buildings, the excavations also revealed tabernae with stalls, storehouses and wells. The district also had a system of terracotta pipes that supplied water and heat to the houses. In addition, there was a sewage infrastructure for the disposal of rainwater and sewage.

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