Henry K. “Hal” Sharp

In the first and second seasons of the Princeton excavations at Morgantina, 1955 and 1956, a Greek sacred precinct came to light in the south center of the ancient city's upper agora.  This unroofed, rectangular temenos enclosed an altar composed of a short flight of steps to an earthen platform.  After the fall of the city in 211 B.C.E., the temenos came to  be incorporated into a macellum, or food market, the largest second-century B.C.E. building at Morgantina, and, in fact, the earliest surviving example of the macellum type.  The Princeton excavators readily recognized the differences in materials and workmanship between these two structures, but a number of questions remained concerning chronology, development, and use, as well as the relationship of the temenos to the extensive third-century B.C.E. civic improvement campaign the Greek administration carried out under Hieron II of Syracuse.

Macellum temenos

Further excavation in 2001 confirmed the Hieronian origins of the temenos, as well as the sequential monumentalization of the precinct from an earthen berm to a stone altar to an enclosed, high-walled structure secured by lockable doors.  Its dedication remains unknown, but the spatial centrality of the temenos and its proximity to the Greek city's principal path of entry convey its importance to the religious and, likely, political identity of Hieronian Morgantina.  In 2010, examination of a series of low terrace walls adjacent to the temenos demonstrated the Greek civic authority's ongoing maintenance of the agora surface level as urban improvement projects continued.  The sons or grandsons of the conquering Roman mercenaries of 211, the Hispanii, built the macellum over three of these terrace walls, and included the temenos with the spaces on the west side of the new market building.  Rapidly silting ground levels compelled raising the temenos threshold and likely the heights of its wall as well.

After completion of additional research and soundings in 2012. I will prepare the temenos findings for publication, and in collaboration with Joanne Spurza, of Hunter College, we will complete and publish a study of the macellum.