Research projects

The Greek colony city of Himera, a Chalcidic-Doric mixed colony, is located about 50 km east of Palermo in a large bay between the Imera Settentronale river in the east, and the Fiume Torto river in the west. 

Himera was founded 240 years before its destruction by the Carthaginians in 409-649 BC (Diod. 13, 62, 4). Unlike most Greek colony cities, Himera is located on the north coast of Sicily and is geared towards trade in the Tyrrhenian Sea – with the Phoenicians, the Greeks of southern Italy, and the Etruscans. Due to its neighboring location to the Carthaginian settlements of Palermo and Soluntum, it forms – similar to Selinunte, founded in 628 BC in the south of the island – a far advanced Greek outpost to the Carthaginian sphere of influence in the west of the island. Himera was the site of great historical battles against the Carthaginians twice in its history (480 BC and 409 BC; Hdt. 7,165-167; Diod. 11, 20–22. 11, 59–62; Strab. 6, 2, 6), and was ultimately defeated by the Carthaginian offensive in 409 BC (Selinunte and other cities in the south of the island suffered the same fate). 

The Himera project at the University of Bern was officially launched in March 2012 in collaboration with the Director of the Himera Archaeological Park after a preparatory phase in 2011. It is dedicated to a 40 ha (Hectares) area of the colony, which has remained unexplored in history except for two small interventions: the Piano del Tamburino (see excavation reports). 

Project management:

Prof. Dr. Elena Mango in collaboration with the “Parco archeologico di Himera” 

Excavation report:

Grabungsbericht 2017 (AntK 61, 2018)
Grabungsbericht 2016 (AntK 60, 2017)
Grabungsbericht 2015 (AntK 59, 2016)
Grabungsbericht 2014 (AntK 58, 2015)
Grabungsbericht 2013 (AntK 57, 2014)
Grabungsbericht 2012 (AntK 56, 2013)

Research project on the fortification system of Monte Lato at the University of Zurich.

The research project is comprised of two parts: first, the ascent of the mountain (Monte Lato) at 800 mamsl (meters above sea level) and the documentation of the otherwise unknown extensive fortifications of Laitas/Letas/Giato (as the town was called in Greek, Roman, and Arab times, respectively). 

A second part of the research includes several excavation campaigns at the west gate, and especially along the east side of the city wall and at the east gate (main entrance to the city). An impressive gate system with towers several meters high has been uncovered. These gateways were expanded and fortified throughout the tumultuous history of the city.

The excavations have been finished, but the study of structures and finds, and the preparation of final publications are in progress. 

Project management:

Prof. Dr. Elena Mango