When utility workers were digging up streets in the town of Gela in southern Sicily, Italy, in order to insert cables for their new fiber broadband infrastructure, they made a very unusual and unexpected find. They unearthed an entire Greek necropolis in what’s been called a very important archaeological discovery.
The workers found skeletons of several adults along with funeral objects which were located next to the bodies. Additionally, they uncovered a Greek vase and the contents were quite disturbing to say the least. Inside of the ancient vase – which is called a hydria – were the bones of a baby. Normally the vase would have been used to carry water in ancient times, so finding the remains of a baby inside of it was quite unusual.
Scientists have yet to figure out why the bones of a baby were placed inside of the vase. What they do know for sure is that child mortality rates were quite high during that time period and that ancient Greeks had strong beliefs in life after death.
After the utility workers made the discovery, archaeologists went to the site in order to study the remains. They were able to determine that the skeletons as well as the objects date back to between 700 and 650 B.C. – around the same time that the first Greek settlers arrived and made their home in Sicily.
Up until this recent discovery, archaeologists didn’t have much information about the first Greek settlers in Sicily, so the fact that the utility workers unearthed the necropolis is definitely a significant find in studying the ancient colonizers.
And the fact that they made the discovery in Magna Graecia is also quite significant. The name Magna Graecia refers to coastal areas in the southern part of Italy that were colonized by ancient Greeks between the 8th and 5th centuries B.C. In fact, the city where the necropolis was discovered (Gela) has kept its original Greek name of Γέλα. The city was given its name Γέλα by the ancient Greek colonists who came to the island and officially founded it in 689 B.C. after arriving there from the islands of Crete and Rhodes.