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ELISA CHIARA PORTALE

Himera: pratiche cultuali nell’abitato

Abstract

The excavations of the University of Palermo in ancient Himera (northern Sicily) discovered a relatively large part of the ancient Greek town, which was organized according to a regular grid-plan dated to the first half of 6th century BC (as the latest stratigraphic trials have shown), while in the second quarter of the 5th century and later, till the destruction of the city in 409, several modifications altered the house-blocks and their inner organization. The paper treats the evidences for domestic cultic activities in this latter phase of the settlement, and at the same time examines some contexts that are “intermediate” between the “oikic” and the communal spheres. Albeit the evidence is seemingly “silent” about the destinations of the rooms, and even if it is difficult to detect spaces specifically reserved to cultic activities within the Classical houses of Himera, through a joint analysis of the small finds and of the overall organization of the houses, and by assessing the correspondences between “sacred-communal” and “secular-private” contexts, one could understand better both the functions of the spaces and of the domestic equipment, and the interaction private-public in the domestic realm. I will argue that the key themes in rituals and cultic activities performed both within home and in the “santuarietti urbani” are related to the concerns of the oikos, and primarily to the weddings and childcare. Finally, I would try to contribute to discussion about oikos religion and its role in shaping the fabric of the city.