• Lago di Venere
  • Pantelleria


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    • No period data has been added yet


    • 400 BC - 200 AD


      • Pantelleria is located between Sicily and Tunisia. It has been inhabited for several millennia by a number of different cultures, each leaving a lasting impression on the landscapes and cultures of the island. One of the island’s most notable, but less well-known, phases was as a Punic settlement. Brief citations from ancient Roman sources, imply that Pantelleria was a pawn in the Punic Wars, being fully captured by the Romans in 217 BCE. The experience of conquered spaces and people at Pantelleria (Roman Cossyra) are, however, left un-discussed in the ancient sources. The findings of the Brock University Archaeological Project at Pantelleria (BUAPP) complement other investigations into the classical periods on the island. The ongoing excavations on the Acropolis of Pantelleria are revealing the remains of the Roman and Punic centers on the island near the main harbour (Schäfer et al. 2015). Also, a previous project in part of the Lago di Venere area (1998-2002) interpreted the Lago site as a Punic and Roman sanctuary (Audino, Cerasetti 2004; Cerasetti 2006). A primary goal of BUAPP is to investigate the archaeological record for evidence of the nature of cultural interaction at the proposed sanctuary site at the north-eastern corner of the Lago di Venere area. Through the survey, excavation, and finds analysis, BUAPP is developing chronological and cultural understandings of the functions of the study area. The interpretation of the site as a sanctuary must be questioned. The investigations at the Lago di Venere bear great importance for exploring the relationship between the Punic and Roman cultures. Pantelleria holds the potential for illuminating the process of cultural interaction between these two cultures in a crossroads of the Mediterranean. In 2015, BUAPP consisted of a small team including six undergraduate volunteers. During this season, four test trenches were excavated to determine the accuracy of impressions based on the results of the Ground-Penetrating Radar Survey conducted previously (Urban et al. 2015) and to establish cultural and chronological frameworks of the site. The locations of the trenches were placed in relation to possible architectural features visible in the GPR readings that were deemed critical to explore in the first phase of investigation. The trenches confirmed the general hypothesis of the ancient nature of the architecture (Murray et al. 2017). One trench in particular contained the bottom course of walls constructed of dry-stone masonry with pavimenta punica flooring. The diagnostic pottery dates primarily to the late third to early/mid second century BC, with a small amount representative of the first century BC and first century AD.
      • In 2016, the Brock University Archaeological Project at Pantelleria (BUAPP) returned to the Lago di Venere to expand the excavation area based on the test trenches examined in the previous season with the aims of questioning the interpretation of the site as a sanctuary and beginning to define the relationship between the Punic and Roman phases. The importance of the landscape to the development of the site is also a central concern. The construction and maintenance of this site near the shore of a brackish, thermal volcanic crater-lake, and at a considerable distance from the Acropolis must be for significant reasons. One point of conjecture for the project is that the special quality of the crystal blue thermal, yet non-potable, water drew people to this location because of a potential chthonic connection. The main area of investigation consisted of extending the main test trench from the previous season that contained numerous wall and floor features. This area revealed that the architectural feature is a multi-room structure. The construction techniques of dry-stone masonry with wide wall bases and no terracotta roof tiles suggest Punic work. The absence of a clear ancient destruction layer and the presence of a substantial amount of Roman period materials suggests the possibility that this structure was constructed in the Punic period and continued to exist through the Roman period, or at least that Punic construction techniques were maintained into the Roman period. In parallel, the diagnostic pottery continued to point to the Punic and Roman periods, dating primarily from the third to century BC to the first century AD. A considerable amount of fragmented, plaster architectural decorations were found through the site; these types are also found on the Pantelleria Acropolis (Müller 2015: 465-481). Also of note is a fragment of a terracotta female votive, a marble toe, and plaster corner volute possibly from an altar. These finds in association with the architecture cautiously add to the interpretation of this area as a sanctuary. BUAPP continues to question the impetus behind the construction of the site and the potential multiple functions of the area, perhaps a combination of sacred and secular activities. The significance of the Lago di Venere site must be examined in connection with other projects on the island and its broader significance for the central Mediterranean. The location of the former edge of the lake in antiquity is still unclear. The spatial relationship between the lake and the architectural features of the site continue to be investigated. A closer dialogue is now underway to compare architectural techniques found at the Lago di Venere with the Pantelleria Acropolis and other Punic sites in Sicily and North Africa. The Lago di Venere site is also being considered as a possible context of worship at a volcanic landscape feature, which forms part of a significant field throughout Sicily and Italy.


      • E. Acquaro, B. Cerasetti (eds.), 2006, Pantelleria Punica. Bologna: Ante Quem.
      • B. Cerasetti, 2000, ‘Punic Pantelleria. Preliminary Report’. Rivista di Studi Punici, I:101-114.
      • M. Manini, 2006, Della Variabilità dei suoli in Località “Lago di Venere”. In Pantelleria Punica, Ed: E. Acquaro and B. Cerasetti. Bologna: Ante Quem 238-245.
      • K. Müller,2015 “Architekturbefunde aus Schnitt I und den Angrenzenden Bereichen” in Schäfer, T., K. Schmidt, M. Osanna (eds.), 2015, Cossyra I. Die Ergebnisse der Grabungen auf der Akropolis von Pantelleria. Tübinger Archäologische Forschungen 10. Rahden: Leidorf.
      • C. A. Murray, C. Vella, T. M. Urban, 2017, ‘Investigating the proposed sanctuary area near the volcanic Lago di Venere, Pantelleria (Italy)’. Forthcoming in April Antiquity Online Project Gallery.
      • P. Orsi, 1899, “Relazione in merito alla missione archeological nell’Isola di Pantelleria, anno 1894/95”, Monumenti Antichi dei Lincei, IX: 450-540.
      • T. Schäfer, K. Schmidt, M. Osanna (eds.), 2015, Cossyra I. Die Ergebnisse der Grabungen auf der Akropolis von Pantelleria. Tübinger Archäologische Forschungen 10. Rahden: Leidorf.
      • D.H. Trump, 1963, ‘Pantelleria Revisited’, Antiquity, 37: 203.
      • S. Tusa, D. Ursini, 2012,‘Rinvenimenti eneolitici a Pantelleria— Lago di Venere’. In Atti della XLI Riunione Scientifica. Firenze: Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria: 623-636.
      • T.M. Urban, C. Murray, C. Vella, A. Lahikainen, 2015, “Ground-penetrating radar survey on the island of Pantelleria (Italy) reveals an ancient architectural complex with likely Punic and Roman components”, Journal of Applied Geophysics, 123: 164-169.