Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands referred to as Regione Siciliana. Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula, from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina, its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe, one of the most active in the world 3,329 m high. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate; the earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the island dates from as early as 12,000 BC. By around 750 BC, Sicily had three Phoenician and a dozen Greek colonies and, for the next 600 years, it was the site of the Sicilian Wars and the Punic Wars. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Sicily was ruled during the Early Middle Ages by the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, the Emirate of Sicily; the Norman conquest of southern Italy led to the creation of the Kingdom of Sicily, subsequently ruled by the Hohenstaufen, the Capetian House of Anjou and the House of Habsburg.
It was unified under the House of Bourbon with the Kingdom of Naples as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It became part of Italy in 1860 following the Expedition of the Thousand, a revolt led by Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Italian unification, a plebiscite. Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region on 15th May 1946, 18 days before the Italian constitutional referendum of 1946. Albeit, much of the autonomy still remains unapplied financial autonomy, because the autonomy-activating laws have been deferred to be approved by the parithetic committee, since 1946. Sicily has a rich and unique culture with regard to the arts, literature and architecture, it is home to important archaeological and ancient sites, such as the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Valley of the Temples and Selinunte. Sicily has a triangular shape, earning it the name Trinacria. To the east, it is separated from the Italian mainland by the Strait of Messina, about 3 km wide in the north, about 16 km wide in the southern part.
The northern and southern coasts are each about 280 km long measured as a straight line, while the eastern coast measures around 180 km. The total area of the island is 25,711 km2, while the Autonomous Region of Sicily has an area of 27,708 km2; the terrain of inland Sicily is hilly and is intensively cultivated wherever possible. Along the northern coast, the mountain ranges of Madonie, 2,000 m, Nebrodi, 1,800 m, Peloritani, 1,300 m, are an extension of the mainland Apennines; the cone of Mount Etna dominates the eastern coast. In the southeast lie the lower Hyblaean Mountains, 1,000 m; the mines of the Enna and Caltanissetta districts were part of a leading sulphur-producing area throughout the 19th century, but have declined since the 1950s. Sicily and its surrounding small islands have some active volcanoes. Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and still casts black ash over the island with its ever-present eruptions, it stands 3,329 metres high, though this varies with summit eruptions.
It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 with a basal circumference of 140 km; this makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. In Greek mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under the mountain by Zeus, the god of the sky. Mount Etna is regarded as a cultural symbol and icon of Sicily; the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the northeast of mainland Sicily form a volcanic complex, include Stromboli. The three volcanoes of Vulcano and Lipari are currently active, although the latter is dormant. Off the southern coast of Sicily, the underwater volcano of Ferdinandea, part of the larger Empedocles volcano, last erupted in 1831, it is located between the island of Pantelleria. The autonomous region includes several neighbouring islands: the Aegadian Islands, the Aeolian Islands and Lampedusa; the island is drained by several rivers, most of which flow through the central area and enter the sea at the south of the island.
The Salso flows through parts of Enna and Caltanissetta before entering the Mediterranean Sea at the port of Licata. To the east, the Alcantara flows through the province of Messina and enters the sea at Giardini Naxos, the Simeto, which flows into the Ionian Sea south of Catania. Other important rivers on the island are the Platani in the southwest. Sicily has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild and wet winters and hot, dry summers with changeable intermediate seasons. On the coasts the south-western, the climate is affected by the African currents and summers can be scorching. Sicily is seen as an island of warm winters but above all along the Tyrrhenian coast and in the inland areas, winters can be cold, with typical continental climate. Snow falls in abundance above 900–1000 metres, but stronger cold waves can carry it in the hills and in coastal cities on the northern coast of the island; the interi
Etruscan art was produced by the Etruscan civilization in central Italy between the 9th and 2nd centuries BC. From around 600 BC it was influenced by Greek art, imported by the Etruscans, but always retained distinct characteristics. Strong in this tradition were figurative sculpture in terracotta, wall-painting and metalworking in bronze. Jewellery and engraved gems of high quality were produced. Etruscan sculpture in cast bronze was famous and exported, but few large examples have survived. In contrast to terracotta and bronze, there was little Etruscan sculpture in stone, despite the Etruscans controlling fine sources of marble, including Carrara marble, which seems not to have been exploited until the Romans; the great majority of survivals came from tombs, which were crammed with sarcophagi and grave goods, terracotta fragments of architectural sculpture around temples. Tombs have produced all the fresco wall-paintings, which show scenes of feasting and some narrative mythological subjects.
Bucchero wares in black were the native styles of fine Etruscan pottery. There was a tradition of elaborate Etruscan vase painting, which sprung from its Greek equivalent. Etruscan temples were decorated with colourfully painted terracotta antefixes and other fittings, which survive in large numbers where the wooden superstructure has vanished. Etruscan art was connected to religion; the Etruscans emerged from the preceding Villanovan culture. Due to the proximity and/or commercial contact to Etruria, other ancient cultures influenced Etruscan art, such as Greece, Egypt and the Middle East; the Romans would come to absorb the Etruscan culture into theirs but would be influenced by them and their art. Etruscan art is divided into a number of periods: 900 to 675 BC – Early Villanovan period; the emphasis on funerary art is evident. Impasto shaped as hut urns. Bronze objects small except for vessels, were decorated by moulding or by incised lines. Small statuettes were handles or other fittings for vessels.
675–575 BC – Oriental or Orientalising period. Foreign trade with established Mediterranean civilizations interested in the metal ores of Etruria and other products from further north led to imports of foreign art that of Ancient Greece, some Greek artists immigrated. Decoration adopted a Greek and Near Eastern vocabulary with palmettes and other motifs, the foreign lion was a popular animal to depict; the Etruscan upper class began to fill their large tombs with grave goods. A native Bucchero pottery, now using the potter's wheel, went alongside the start of a Greek-influenced tradition of painted vases, which until 600 drew more from Corinth than Athens. 575–480 BC – Archaic period - Prosperity continued to grow, Greek influence grew to the exclusion of other Mediterranean cultures, despite the two cultures coming into conflict as their respective zones of expansion met each other. The period saw the emergence of the Etruscan temple, with its elaborate and brightly painted terracotta decorations, other larger buildings.
Figurative art, including human figures and narrative scenes, grew more prominent. The Etruscans adopted stories from Greek mythology enthusiastically. Paintings in fresco begin to be found in tombs, were made for some other buildings; the Persian conquest of Ionia in 546 saw a significant influx of Greek artist refugees. Other earlier developments continued, the period produced much of the finest and most distinctive Etruscan art. 480–300 BC – Classical period - The Etruscans had now peaked in economic and political terms, the volume of art produced reduced somewhat in the 5th century, with prosperity shifting from the coastal cities to the interior the Po valley. In the 4th century volumes revived somewhat, previous trends continued to develop without major innovations in the repertoire, except for the arrival of red-figure vase painting, more sculpture such as sarcophagi in stone rather than terracotta. Bronzes from Vulci were exported within Etruria and beyond; the Romans were now picking off the Etruscan cities one by one, with Veii being conquered around 396.
300–50 BC – Hellenistic or late phase. Over this period the remaining Etruscan cities were all absorbed into Roman culture, the extent to which art and architecture should be described as Etruscan or Roman is difficult to judge. Distinctive Etruscan types of object ceased to be made, with the last painted vases appearing early in the period, large painted tombs ending in the 2nd century. Styles continued to follow broad Greek trends, with increasing sophistication and classical realism accompanied by a loss of energy and character. Bronze statues, now large, were sometimes replicas of Greek models; the large Greek temple pediment groups of sculptures were in terracotta. The Etruscans were accomplished sculptors for which notable examples in terracotta and bronze are testimony. Though the renowned "Capitoline Wolf" is now suggested to have been manufactured in the 13th century AD, some of the more famous examples include: The Centaur of Vulci, 590–580 BC, National Etruscan Museum, from the Villa Giulia the painted terracotta Apollo of Veii, 510–500 BC, from the temple at Por
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Crete and a number of surrounding islands and islets constitute the region of Crete, one of the 13 top-level administrative units of Greece; the capital and the largest city is Heraklion. As of 2011, the region had a population of 623,065. Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece, while retaining its own local cultural traits, it was once the centre of the Minoan civilisation, the earliest known civilisation in Europe. The palace of Knossos lies in Crete; the island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC, repeated in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible. It was known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu suggesting a similar Minoan name for the island; the current name of Crete is thought to be first attested in Mycenaean Greek texts written in Linear B, through the words ke-re-te, ke-re-si-jo, "Cretan".
In Ancient Greek, the name Crete first appears in Homer's Odyssey. Its etymology is unknown. One proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luwian word, *kursatta. In Latin, it became Creta; the original Arabic name of Crete was Iqrīṭiš, but after the Emirate of Crete's establishment of its new capital at ربض الخندق Rabḍ al-Ḫandaq, both the city and the island became known as Χάνδαξ or Χάνδακας, which gave Latin and Venetian Candia, from which were derived French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit. Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, it is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea. The island has an elongated shape: it spans 260 km from east to west, is 60 km at its widest point, narrows to as little as 12 km. Crete covers an area of 8,336 km2, with a coastline of 1,046 km, it lies 160 km south of the Greek mainland. Crete is mountainous, its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east, formed by three different groups of mountains: The White Mountains or Lefka Ori 2,454 m The Idi Range (Psiloritis 35.18°N 24.82°E / 35.18.
The island has a number of gorges, such as the Samariá Gorge, Imbros Gorge, Kourtaliotiko Gorge, Ha Gorge, Platania Gorge, the Gorge of the Dead and Richtis Gorge and waterfall at Exo Mouliana in Sitia. The rivers of Crete include the Ieropotamos River, the Koiliaris, the Anapodiaris, the Almiros, the Giofyros, Megas Potamos. There are only two freshwater lakes in Crete: Lake Kournas and Lake Agia, which are both in Chania regional unit. Lake Voulismeni at the coast, at Aghios Nikolaos, was a freshwater lake but is now connected to the sea, in Lasithi. Lakes that were created by dams exist in Crete. There are three: the lake of Aposelemis Dam, the lake of Potamos Dam, the lake of Mpramiana Dam. A large number of islands and rocks hug the coast of Crete. Many are visited by tourists, some are only visited by biologists; some are environmentally protected. A small sample of the islands includes: Gramvousa the pirate island opposite the Balo lagoon Elafonisi, which commemorates a shipwreck and an Ottoman massacre Chrysi island, which hosts the largest natural Lebanon cedar forest in Europe Paximadia island where the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis were born The Venetian fort and leper colony at Spinalonga opposite the beach and shallow waters of Elounda Dionysades islands which are in an environmentally protected region together the Palm Beach Forest of Vai in the municipality of Sitia, LasithiOff the south coast, the island of Gavdos is located 26 nautical miles south of Hora Sfakion and is the southernmost point of Europe.
Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is Mediterranean; the atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is mild. Snowfall is rare in the low-lying areas. While some mountain tops are snow-capped for most of the year, near the coast snow only stays on the ground for a few minutes or hours. However, a exceptional cold snap swept the island in February 2004, during which period the whole island was blanketed with snow. During the Cretan summer, average temperatures reach the high 20s-low 30s Celsius, with maxima touching the upper 30s-mid 40s; the south coast, including the Mesara Pla
A loutrophoros is a distinctive type of Greek pottery vessel characterized by an elongated neck with two handles. The loutrophoros was used to carry water for a bride's pre-nuptial ritual bath, in funeral rituals, was placed in the tombs of the unmarried; the loutrophoros itself is a motif for Greek tombstones, either as a stone vessel. There are many in the funeral area at the Kerameikon in Athens, some of which are now preserved in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Ancient Greek vase painting Pottery of ancient Greece Richter, Gisela M. A.. A Newly Acquired Loutrophoros; the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 2, Part 1, pp. 54–57. Image of the Relief-Loutrophoros of Panaetius
In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a skillful craftsman and artist, was seen as a symbol of wisdom and power. He is the father of Icarus, the uncle of Perdix, also the father of Iapyx, although this is unclear, he invented and built the labyrinth for king Minos of Crete, but shortly after finishing it king Minos had Daedalus imprisoned within the labyrinth. He and his son Icarus devised a plan to escape by using wings made of wax that Daedalus had invented, they escaped. The wax melted and Icarus fell to his death; this left Daedalus heartbroken. Daedalus's parentage was supplied as a addition, providing him with a father in Metion, Eupalamus, or Palamaon, a mother, Iphinoe, or Phrasmede. Daedalus had two sons: Iapyx, along with a nephew either Talos or Perdix. Athenians transferred Cretan Daedalus to make him Athenian-born, the grandson of the ancient king Erechtheus, claiming that Daedalus fled to Crete after killing his nephew Talos. Over time, other stories were told of Daedalus. Daedalus is first mentioned by Homer as the creator of a wide dancing-ground for Ariadne.
He created the Labyrinth on Crete, in which the Minotaur was kept. In the story of the labyrinth as told by the Hellenes, the Athenian hero Theseus is challenged to kill the Minotaur, finding his way with the help of Ariadne's thread. Daedalus' appearance in Homer is in an extended metaphor, "plainly not Homer's invention", Robin Lane Fox observes: "He is a point of comparison and so he belongs in stories which Homer's audience recognized." In Bronze Age Crete, an inscription da-da-re-jo-de has been read as referring to a place at Knossos, a place of worship. In Homer's language, daidala refers to finely crafted objects, they are objects of armor, but fine bowls and furnishings are daidala, on one occasion so are the "bronze-working" of "clasps, twisted brooches and necklaces" made by Hephaestus while cared for in secret by the goddesses of the sea. Ignoring Homer writers envisaged the Labyrinth as an edifice rather than a single dancing path to the center and out again, gave it numberless winding passages and turns that opened into one another, seeming to have neither beginning nor end.
Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, suggests that Daedalus constructed the Labyrinth so cunningly that he himself could escape it after he built it. Daedalus built the labyrinth for King Minos; the story is told that Poseidon had given a white bull to Minos so that he might use it as a sacrifice. Instead, Minos kept it for himself. For Pasiphaë, as Greek mythologers interpreted it, Daedalus built a wooden cow so she could mate with the bull, for the Greeks imagined the Minoan bull of the sun to be an actual, earthly bull, the slaying of which required a heroic effort by Theseus; this story thus encourages others to consider the long-term consequences of their own inventions with great care, lest those inventions do more harm than good. As in the tale of Icarus' wings, Daedalus is portrayed assisting in the creation of something that has subsequent negative consequences, in this case with his creation of the monstrous Minotaur's impenetrable Labyrinth, which made slaying the beast an endeavour of legendary difficulty.
The most familiar literary telling explaining Daedalus' wings is a late one, that of Ovid: in his Metamorphoses Daedalus was shut up in a tower to prevent the knowledge of his Labyrinth from spreading to the public. He could not leave Crete by sea, as the king kept a strict watch on all vessels, permitting none to sail without being searched. Since Minos controlled the land and sea routes, Daedalus set to work to fabricate wings for himself and his young son Icarus, he tied feathers together, from smallest to largest so as to form an increasing surface. He secured the feathers at their midpoints with string and at their bases with wax, gave the whole a gentle curvature like the wings of a bird; when the work was done, the artist, waving his wings, found himself buoyed upward and hung suspended, poising himself on the beaten air. He next equipped his son in the same manner, taught him how to fly; when both were prepared for flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high, because the heat of the sun would melt the wax, nor too low, because the sea foam would soak the feathers.
They had passed Samos and Lebynthos by the time the boy, forgetting himself, began to soar upward toward the sun. The blazing sun softened the wax that held the feathers together and they came off. Icarus fell in the sea and drowned, his father cried, bitterly lamenting his own arts, called the island near the place where Icarus fell into the ocean Icaria in memory of his child. Some time the goddess Athena visited Daedalus and gave him wings, telling him to fly like a god. An early image of winged Daedalus appears on an Etruscan jug of ca 630 BC found at Cerveteri, where a winged figure captioned Taitale appears on one side of the vessel, paired on the other side, with Metaia, Medea: "its linking of these two mythical figures is unparalleled," Robin Lane Fox observes: "The link was based on their wondrous, miraculous art. Magically, Daedalus could fly, magically Medea was able to rejuvenate the old"; the image
A pyxis is a shape of vessel from the classical world a cylindrical box with a separate lid. Used by women to hold cosmetics, trinkets or jewellery, surviving pyxides are Greek pottery, but in periods may be in wood, ivory, or other materials; the name derived from Corinthian boxes made of wood from the tree puksos, that came with covers. The shape of the vessel can be traced in pottery back to the Protogeometric period in Athens, however the Athenian pyxis has various shapes itself. At first, the two varieties of pyxis included the flat-bottomed; the pointed pyxis didn't last much longer than the ninth century BCE, while the flat-bottomed continued into the late Geometric. It continued to grow larger and more squat in proportions; the cover depicts elaborately sculpted handles and the walls tend to be somewhat convex. During the sixth century BCE, Athens began producing boxes with concave walls that enabled them to be grasped when ranged close together on a shelf. Compare the waisted shape of the medieval and Early Modern albarello.
Images on the pyxis depict the marriage procession from a young girl's house to that of her new husband. Pyx is a term for a liturgical box cylindrical, but of variable design, still used for holding and transporting consecrated hosts in the traditional Christian churches, a use to which the church began to put these boxes at a early date
The Neo-Assyrian Empire was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, became the largest empire of the world up until that time. The Assyrians perfected early techniques of imperial rule, many of which became standard in empires, was, according to many historians, the first real empire in history; the Assyrians were the first to be armed with iron weapons, their troops employed advanced, effective military tactics. Following the conquests of Adad-nirari II in the late 10th century BC, Assyria emerged as the most powerful state in the known world at the time, coming to dominate the Ancient Near East, East Mediterranean, Asia Minor and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa and conquering rivals such as Babylonia, Persia, Lydia, the Medes, Cimmerians, Judah, Chaldea, the Kushite Empire, the Arabs, Egypt; the Neo-Assyrian Empire succeeded the Old Assyrian Empire, the Middle Assyrian Empire of the Late Bronze Age. During this period, Aramaic was made an official language of the empire, alongside Akkadian.
Upon the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC, the empire began to disintegrate due to a brutal and unremitting series of civil wars in Assyria proper. In 616 BC, Cyaxares king of the Medes and Persians made alliances with Nabopolassar ruler of the Babylonians and Chaldeans, the Scythians and Cimmerians against Assyria. At the Fall of Harran the Babylonians and Medes defeated an Assyrian-Egyptian alliance, after which Assyria ceased to exist as an independent state. A failed attempt to reconquer Harran ended the Assyrian Empire. Although the empire fell, Assyrian history continued. Assyria was an Akkadian kingdom which evolved in the 25th to 24th centuries BC; the earliest Assyrian kings such as Tudiya were minor rulers, after the founding of the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from 2334 BC to 2154 BC, these kings became subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian- and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under one rule. The urbanised Akkadian-speaking nation of Assyria emerged in the mid 21st century BC, evolving from the dissolution of the Akkadian Empire.
In the Old Assyrian period of the Early Bronze Age, Assyria had been a kingdom of northern Mesopotamia, competing for dominance with the Hattians and Hurrians of Asia Minor, the ancient Sumero-Akkadian "city states" such as Isin, Ur and Larsa, with Babylonia, founded by Amorites in 1894 BC, under Kassite rule. During the 20th century BC, it established colonies in Asia Minor, under the 20th century BC King Ilushuma, Assyria conducted many successful raids against the states of the south. Assyria fell under the control of the Amorite chieftain Shamshi-Adad I, who established a dynasty and was unusually energetic and politically canny, installing his sons as puppet rulers at Mari and Ekallatm. Following this it found itself under short periods of Babylonian and Mitanni-Hurrian domination in the 17th and 15th centuries BC followed by another period of power from 1365 BC to 1074 BC, that included the reigns of kings such as Ashur-uballit I, Tukulti-Ninurta I, Tiglath-Pileser I. Ashur-uballit extended Assyrian control over the rich farming lands of Nineveh and Arbela to the north.
Tiglath-Pileser controlled the lucrative caravan routes that crossed the fertile crescent from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. Much campaigning by Tiglath-Pileser and succeeding kings was directed against Aramaean pastoralist groups in Syria, some of whom were moving against Assyrian centers. By the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the Aramaean expansion had resulted in the loss of much Assyrian territory in Upper Mesopotamia. After the death of Tiglath-Pileser I in 1076 BC, Assyria was in comparative decline for the next 150 years; the period from 1200 BC to 900 BC was a Dark Age for the entire Near East, North Africa, Caucasus and Balkan regions, with great upheavals and mass movements of people. Assyria was in a stronger position during this time than potential rivals such as Egypt, Elam, Urartu and Media. Beginning with the campaigns of Adad-nirari II, Assyria again became a great power, overthrowing the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt and conquering Elam, Media, Mannea, Phoenicia/Canaan, Israel, Philistia, Moab, Cilicia, Chaldea, Commagene, Dilmun and Neo-Hittites.
Adad-nirari II and his successors campaigned on an annual basis for part of every year with an exceptionally well-organized army. He subjugated the areas under only nominal Assyrian vassalage and deporting Aramean and Hurrian populations in the north to far-off places. Adad-nirari II twice attacked and defeated Shamash-mudammiq of Babylonia, annexing a large area of land north of the Diyala river and the towns of Hit and Zanqu in mid Mesopotamia, he made further gains over Babylonia under Nabu-shuma-ukin I in his reign. He was succeeded by Tukulti-Ninurta II in 891 BC, who further consolidated Assyria's position and expanded northwards into Asia Minor and the Zagros Mountains during his short reign; the next king, Ashurnasirpal II, embarked on a vast program of expansion. During his rule, Assyria recovered much of the territory that it had lost around 1100 BC at the end of the Middle Assyrian period. Ashurnasirpal II camp