Megara Hyblaea

Megara Hyblaea (Ancient Greek: τὰ Μέγαρα) – perhaps identical with Hybla Major – is an ancient Greek colony in Sicily, situated near Augusta on the east coast, 20 kilometres (12 mi) north-northwest of Syracuse, Italy, on the deep bay formed by the Xiphonian promontory.[1] There were at least three (and possibly as many as five) cities[2] named "Hybla" in ancient accounts of Sicily which are often confounded with each other, and among which it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish.[3]

Megara Hyblaea
τὰ Μέγαρα (in Ancient Greek)
Megara Hyblaea 001
Mosaics on the floor of a house near the western gate of Megara Hyblaea.
Megara Hyblaea is located on the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy
Megara Hyblaea is located on the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy
Shown within Italy
LocationAugusta, Sicily, Italy
Coordinates37°12′14.04″N 15°10′54.84″E / 37.2039000°N 15.1819000°ECoordinates: 37°12′14.04″N 15°10′54.84″E / 37.2039000°N 15.1819000°E
BuilderGreek settlers from Megara
Founded8th century BC
AbandonedApproximately 483 BC
PeriodsArchaic Greek
Site notes
Excavation dates1891
ManagementSoprintendenza per i Beni Culturali ed Ambientali di Siracusa
Public accessYes


It was unquestionably a Greek colony, deriving its origin from the Megara in Greece; and the circumstances attending its foundation are related in detail by Thucydides. He tells us that a colony from Megara, under the command of a leader named Lamis (Ancient Greek: Λάμις), arrived in Sicily about the time that Leontini was founded by the Chalcidic colonists, and settled themselves first near the mouth of the river Pantagias, at a place called Trotilon (Latin: Trotilus, modern Brucoli). From there they removed to Leontini itself, where they dwelt for a time together with the Chalcidians; but were soon afterwards expelled by them, and next established themselves on the promontory or peninsula of Thapsos (Latin: Thapsus, modern Magnisi), near Syracuse. They again relocated after the death of Lamis, and, at the suggestion of Hyblon, a Sicilian chief of the surrounding country, finally settled at a place afterwards called the Hyblaean Megara. (Thuc. vi. 4.) Scymnus Chius follows a different tradition, as he describes the establishment of the Chalcidians at Naxos and that of the Megarians at Hybla as contemporary, and both preceding the foundation of Syracuse, 734 BC. Strabo also adopts the same view, representing Megara as founded about the same time with Naxos (735 BC), and before Syracuse. (Scymn. Ch. 271-76; Strab. vi. p. 269.) It is impossible to reconcile the two accounts, but that of Thucydides is probably the most trustworthy. Thus the foundation of Megara may be placed about 726 BC. Professor Miller, in her reinvestigation of ancient source materials has determined that they point to various dates of foundation from 758 BC (per the Chronikon of Eusebius) to 728 BC (from her reconstructions of dates from Thucydides).[4] Of its earlier history we have scarcely any information, but it would appear to have attained a flourishing condition, as 100 years after its foundation it sent out, in its turn, a colony to the other end of Sicily, where it founded the city of Selinus, which was destined to rise to far greater power than its parent city. (Thuc. vi. 4; Scymn. Ch. 291; Strab. vi. p. 272.)

Nothing more is known of Megara till the period of its destruction by Gelon of Syracuse, about 483 BC, who, after a long siege, made himself master of the city by a capitulation; but, notwithstanding this, caused the bulk of the inhabitants to be sold into slavery, while he established the more wealthy and noble citizens at Syracuse. (Herod. vii. 156; Thuc. vi. 4.) Among the persons thus removed was the celebrated comic poet Epicharmus, who had received his education at Megara, though not a native of that city. (Suda, under Ἐπίχαρμος; Diogenes Laërtius viii. 3.) According to Thucydides, this event took place 245 years after the foundation of Megara, and may therefore be placed about 483 BC. It is certain that Megara never recovered its power and independence. Thucydides distinctly alludes to it as not existing in his time as a city, but repeatedly mentions the locality, on the sea-coast, which was at that time occupied by the Syracusans, but which the Athenian general Lamachus, during the expedition against Syracuse (415–413 BC), proposed to make the headquarters of their fleet; his advice was not taken, and the next spring the Syracusans fortified it. (Thuc. vi. 49, 96.)

From this time we meet with repeated mention of a place named Megara or Megaris (Scyl. p. 4. § 6), which it seems impossible to separate from Hybla, and it is probable that the two were, in fact, identical. The site of this later Megara or Hybla may be fixed, with little doubt, at the mouth of the river Alabus (modern Cantera); but there seems much reason to suppose that the ancient city, the original Greek colony, was situated close to the remarkable promontory now occupied by the city of Augusta.[5] It is difficult to believe that this position, the port of which is at least equal to that of Syracuse, while the peninsula itself has the same advantages as that of Ortygia, should have been wholly neglected in ancient times; and such a station would have admirably served the purposes for which Lamachus urged upon his brother generals the occupation of the vacant site of Megara (Thuc. vi. 49.).


Pile capital from Megara Hyblea Die Baukunst Der Griechen fig 310
Pilaster capital from Megara Hyblaea with palmettes between volutes. 5th century BCE.

Excavations carried on in 1891 led to the discovery of the northern portion of the western town wall, which in one section served at the same time as an embankment against floods—it was apparently more conspicuous in the time of Philipp Cluver, (Sicilia antiqua, Leiden, 1619) p. 133—of an extensive necropolis, about 1500 tombs of which have been explored, and of a deposit of votive objects from a temple. The harbour lay to the north of the town.

In the mid-seventh century, the city was organised according to a regularised plan. An agora emerged with stoas on its north and eastern sides. This is among one of the earliest known agoras.[6]


  1. ^ See Richard Talbert, Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, (ISBN 0-691-03169-X), Map 47.
  2. ^ The circumstance that there were so many towns called Hybla in Sicily probably arose from the fact mentioned by Pausanias, that there was a local divinity of the name. (Paus. v. 23. § 6.)
  3. ^ For example, William Smith, Britain's foremost classicist of the 19th century, begins to describe Hybla Major with an admixture of locational and historic information from both Hybla Gereatis and Megara Hyblaea. Caution should therefore be used when assuming reference to "Hybla" in an ancient source refers to this city.
  4. ^ M. Miller, The Sicilian Colony Dates (1970) ISBN 0-87395-049-6, pp. 18–20, 276–78
  5. ^ The modern city of this name dates only from the thirteenth century, being founded in 1229 by the emperor Frederick II from whom it derives its name.
  6. ^ Martin, R. 1974, 'Architecture of Crete, Greece, and the Greek World', in P. Luigi Nervi (ed.), Ancient Architecture: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete, Greece, Harry N. Abrams, Inc, New York, p. 336.


483 BC

Year 483 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Vibulanus and Potitus (or, less frequently, year 271 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 483 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

628 BC

The year 628 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. In the Roman Empire, it was known as year 126 Ab urbe condita . The denomination 628 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Augusta, Sicily

Augusta (Italian pronunciation: [auˈɡusta]; Sicilian: Austa, Greek and Latin: Megara Hyblaea, Medieval: Augusta and Agosta) is a town and comune in the province of Syracuse, located on the eastern coast of Sicily (southern Italy). The city is one of the main harbours in Italy, especially for oil refineries (Exxon Mobil and others as part of the complex Augusta-Priolo) which are in its vicinity.


The Bacchiadae (Ancient Greek: Βακχιάδαι Bakkhiadai), a tightly-knit Doric clan, were the ruling family of archaic Corinth in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE, a period of Corinthian cultural power.

Corinth had been a backwater in eighth-century Greece. In 747 BCE (a traditional date) an aristocratic revolution ousted the Bacchiad kings of Corinth, when the royal clan of Bacchiadae, numbering perhaps a couple of hundred adult males and claiming descent from the Dorian hero Heracles through the seven sons and three daughters of a legendary king Bacchis, took power from the last king, Telestes. Practicising strict endogamy which kept clan outlines within a distinct extended oikos, they dispensed with kingship and ruled as a group, governing the city by electing annually a prytanis who held the kingly position for his brief term, no doubt a council (though none is specifically documented in the scant literary materials) and a polemarchos to head the army.

In 657 BCE the Bacchiadae were expelled in turn by the tyrant Cypselus, who had been polemarch. The exiled Bacchiadae fled to Corcyra but also to Sparta and west, traditionally to found Syracuse in Sicily, and to Etruria, where Demaratus installed himself at Tarquinia, founding a dynasty of Etruscan kings. The royal line of the Lynkestis of Macedon was also of Bacchiad descent. The foundation myths of Corcyra, Syracuse, and Megara Hyblaea contain considerable detail about the Bacchiadae and the expeditions of the Bacchiad Archias of Corinth, legendary founder of Syracuse in 734/33 BCE, and Philolaos, lover of Diocles of Corinth, victor at Olympia in 728 BCE and a nomothete (lawgiver) of Thebes.

Christopher Gaffney (archaeologist)

Christopher Gaffney (born 14 June 1962) is a British archaeological geophysicist and currently Head of the School of Archaeological and Forensics Sciences at the University of Bradford. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, he was educated at Westgate (Arthurs) Hill School and Rutherford Comprehensive School, his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees were taken at the University of Bradford . His PhD at Bradford was on the Schlumberger Array in geophysical prospection for archaeology (1990) . He is married to Susan Gaffney and has two children - James Gaffney and Bella Gaffney. He is the brother of Vincent Gaffney, also a British archaeologist.

Gaffney's research interests are based on understanding how geophysical data can aide archaeology in the understanding of the life and culture of ancient peoples. In pursuing these research goals he has pursued research in challenging environments where technical excellence and novel methodological approaches can lead to enhanced interpretation of the past. In doing so, Gaffney has undertaken research and managed surveys within Britain and across the world . These have included research projects across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Significant research projects include work his work as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, research on World Heritage Sites at Diocletian’s Palace, Split, in Croatia and at Fountains Abbey, UK, the Greek colony at Megara Hyblaea (Sicily) and ancient Cyrene in Libya. More recently he has participated in major projects directed at broader cultural issues including the Curious Travellers project, utilising web-scraping technologies to reconstruct heritage under threat, but also projects which have sought to understand

Cycladic culture

Cycladic culture (also known as Cycladic civilisation or, chronologically, as Cycladic chronology) was a Bronze Age culture (c. 3200–c. 1050 BC) found throughout the islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. In chronological terms, it is a relative dating system for artefacts which broadly complements Helladic chronology (mainland Greece) and Minoan chronology (Crete) during the same period of time.

Gino Vinicio Gentili

Gino Vinicio Gentili (Osimo, 27 September 1914 – Bologna, 29 July 2006) was an Italian archaeologist.

Greek colonisation

The Greek colonisation was an organised colonial expansion by the Archaic Greeks into the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea in the period of the 8th–6th centuries B.C (750 and 550 B.C)

This colonisation differed from the migrations of the Greek Dark Ages in that it consisted of organised direction by the originating metropolis instead of the simple movement of tribes which characterized the earlier migrations. Many colonies (Ancient Greek: ἀποικία, romanized: apoikia, lit. 'home away from home') that were founded in this period evolved into strong city-states and became independent of their metropoleis.


Hybla may refer to any of several different sites in ancient Sicily:

Megara Hyblaea, archeological site near Augusta

Hybla Heraea, historic quarter (Ibla) of modern Ragusa

Hybla Major, perhaps identical with Megara Hyblaea or with Hybla Gereatis

Hybla Minor

Hybla Gereatis or Hybla Galeatis, possibly modern Paternò

Hybla Heraea

Hybla Heraea or Hybla Hera (Greek: Ὕβλα Ἡραία or Ὕβλα Ἥρα) was an ancient city of Sicily; its site is at the modern località of Ibla, in the comune of Ragusa. There were at least three (and possibly as many as five) cities named "Hybla" in ancient accounts of Sicily which are often confounded with each other, and which it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish.

Hybla Major

Hybla Major or Hybla Maior or Hybla Magna (Greek: Ὕβλα Μεγάλη = Hybla Megale) – the "Greater Hybla" – was a used to identify the most important of the ancient cities named Hybla in Sicily.

Hyblaean Mountains

The Hyblaean Mountains (Italian: Monti Iblei) is a mountain range in south-eastern Sicily, Italy. It straddles the provinces of Ragusa, Syracuse and Catania. The highest peak of the range is Monte Lauro, at 986 m.

Megara (disambiguation)

Megara is an ancient Greek city in the region of Megaris in west Attica.

Megara may also refer to:

Megara (mythology), a mythological Greek princess

Megara (Disney), a fictional character from the 1997 Disney animated film, Hercules

Megara (Thessaly), a town in ancient Thessaly, Greece

Megara Gulf, in the northern part of the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea

Megara Hyblaea, an ancient Greek colony in Sicily, near Augusta

Mireille Cébeillac-Gervasoni

Mireille Cébeillac-Gervasoni (7 April 1942 – 29 March 2017) was a French director of research at the CNRS in Paris. She was a specialist of Latin epigraphy and Republican and Imperial Roman history who published numerous research on the ruling local elites of the Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. She also devoted much time on the history and epigraphy of Ostia Antica.

A member of the École française de Rome, she worked at the CNRS from December 1985 and headed the "Centre de recherche archéologique Jean Bérard" at the Palazzo dell'Istituto Grenoble.She conducted archaeological excavations at Megara Hyblaea (Sicily).

Museo archeologico regionale Paolo Orsi

The Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi of Syracuse, Sicily is one of the principal archaeological museums of Europe.


In the culture of ancient Greece, the term paideia (also spelled paedeia) (; Greek: παιδεία, paideía) referred to the rearing and education of the ideal member of the polis. It incorporated both practical, subject-based schooling and a focus upon the socialization of individuals within the aristocratic order of the polis. The practical aspects of this education included subjects subsumed under the modern designation of the liberal arts (rhetoric, grammar, and philosophy are examples), as well as scientific disciplines like arithmetic and medicine. An ideal and successful member of the polis would possess intellectual, moral and physical refinement, so training in gymnastics and wrestling was valued for its effect on the body alongside the moral education which the Greeks believed was imparted by the study of music, poetry, and philosophy. This approach to the rearing of a well-rounded Greek male was common to the Greek-speaking world, with the exception of Sparta where a rigid and militaristic form of education known as the agoge was practiced.

Paolo Orsi

Paolo Orsi (Rovereto, October 17, 1859 – November 8, 1935) was an Italian archaeologist and classicist.

Phylakopi I culture

The Phylakopi I culture (Greek: Φυλακωπή) refers to a "cultural" dating system used for the Cycladic culture that flourished during the early Bronze Age in Greece. It spans the period ca. 2300-2000 BC and was named by Colin Renfrew, after the settlement of Phylakopi on the Cycladic island of Milos. Other archaeologists describe this period as the Early Cycladic III (ECIII).


Selinunte (; Ancient Greek: Σελινοῦς, Selinous; Latin: Selinūs) was an ancient Greek city on the south-western coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Cottone and Modione rivers. It now lies in the comune Castelvetrano, between the frazioni of Triscina di Selinunte in the west and Marinella di Selinunte in the east. The archaeological site contains five temples centered on an acropolis. Of the five temples, only the Temple of Hera, also known as "Temple E", has been re-erected. At its peak before 409 BC the city may have contained up to 30,000 people, excluding slaves.

Archaeological sites in Sicily
Province of Agrigento
Province of Caltanissetta
Province of Catania
Province of Enna
Province of Messina
Province of Palermo
Province of Ragusa
Province of Syracuse
Province of Trapani

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