Sapienza Returns Statue of Baal to Mozia
A Sapienza team directed by Lorenzo Nigro from the Department of Antiquities has replaced a statue, reproducing the Baal God of 2500 years ago, at the centre of the Kothon of Mozia. The statue was produced in collaboration with the Saperi&Co. Research and Services Centre.
The archaeological dig on the Sicilian San Pantaleo Island (as the Island of Mozia is called today) identified the water basin, which had originally been considered a port, as the so-called Kothon, the sacred basin used for cult activities and filled by fresh water. Indeed, the archaeologists found a calcarenite(tufa) foundation at the centre of the Kothon that safeguards the imprint of a foot. The Sapienza team established that this could be the stand of a statue, a colossus based on the size of the footprint, that once was at the centre of the Kothon.
An examination of the original statue – a statue that has similarities with Egyptian statues and is associated with the God Baal - found in the Laguna dello Stagnone and safeguarded at the Salinas Museum in Palermo, reveals that it perfectly fits the footprint found at the bottom of the Kothon. Indeed, this discovery has pushed the dates for civilisation on Motia by over one thousand years, rewriting its history. Now, a copy of the statue has been replaced at the centre of the Kothon, hypothetically, as it once appeared to the faithful over two millennia ago.
Mozia is a small island in the middle of a lagoon. It is so small that one could easily think it had no part in the history of Sicily. Quite on the contrary, however, San Pantaleo – as it is called today – was a prosperous Phoenician colony. Its strategic position, surrounded by the lagoon and protected by the nearby Isola Longa, made it interesting both to the Carthaginians and to the peoples of Syracuse. And the latter were the cause of its destruction. It was forgotten until it was discovered again at the end of the last century.
The archaeological dig headed by Lorenzo Nigro is part of the Great University Archaeological Missions.