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'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania


In expectation of the future 'Interdisciplinary Regional Museum of Catania' - for which the EU has allocated 5 million euros - the archaeological exhibition 'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' is currently being held on the premises of the former tobacco factory of Catania, located in the piazza San Cristoforo.

'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania

The exhibition - coordinated by the director of the Regional Research Center, Maria Costanza Lentini, together with Fabio Caruso and Antonella Pautasso from IBAM of Catania - presents various aspects of religious worship at the ancient Greek colony of Katane from the sixth and fifth century BC as illustrated by the archaeological finds from the so-called 'votive deposit' discovered by chance in 1959 during excavations for the construction of underground utilities in the piazza San Francesco

Thousands of votive offerings were evidently thrown into a ditch beneath a temple that once stood in the area of the church of St. Francis and which was dedicated to unknown archaic gods and then to the goddess Demeter.

About 7,000 items were recovered from the mud and high water levels during a daring rescue excavation undertaken by scholars, students and enthusiasts who sought to save this treasure from the destructive violence of the Costanzo developer who covered the site with concrete, despite court injunctions.

'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania
'Katane: Between Myth and Ritual' at the ex Manifattura Tabacchi, Piazza San Cristoforo, Catania

The votive ceramics from the piazza San Francesco are presented according to the pottery workshops from which they originated: Miletus, Samos, Chios, Clazomene, Teos. Examples of Eastern Greek workshops are typically characterized by the depiction of animals, like the so-called 'Wild Goat Style'. The votive ceramics came from various parts of the Eastern Greek world and reached the Sicilian coast thanks to the port which was located not far from the temple. A small group of rare ceramics from Sparta of the archaic period, including a cup with a Harpy/Siren connected to the funerary rites of a warrior, is also showcased.

There are also numerous examples of Corinthian ceramics from the 7th and 6th centuries BC, including vases for pouring wine, decorated with orientalizing motifs, ointment jars, and miniatures, as well as Chalkidian pottery which is quite rare, even though Catania was a Chalkidian colony. It seems, in fact, that these were not from Euboean workshops, but were rather locally produced or, more likely, were made in Reggio Calabria.

Attic black-figure pottery of the 6th century BC, includes a large archaic crater, an amphora depicting Heracles fighting the Nemean Lion, an amphora with an equine protome (used as the logo of the exhibition) and a great drinking cup with various registers of decoration: duels of warriors, animals, rays.


Other exhibits include ointment jars in various animal forms - horses, monkeys, hares, panthers (the cat became widespread only in Roman times), bulls (perhaps the river god Archeloos) - and archaic Kore, maidens carrying a lotus flower or a dove, sacred to Aphrodite, and others of the Hellenistic period carrying ears of corn or a piglet. And then there are various types of birds, busts and masks of divinities.

The exhibition is also supplemented by additional finds from the various excavations carried out in the past in the urban area and enriched by three sculptures loaned from the Museo civico di Castello Ursino, among which is the famous marble relief depicting Demeter and Kore.

In one part of the large exhibition space there will also be an educational presentation, provided by the University of Lille 3 Halma-Ipel, titled 'Greek pottery:  For whom? Why? How?' The presentation features panels that explain with text and images the modes of production of terracotta figures in the Greek world and the meaning they have in various contexts. A workshop to explain how the statuettes are modelled, what they were and to whom they were dedicated complete the exhibition.

Source: La Sicilia [June 15, 2017]
TANN

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