Sicily

Sicily

Sicily

Greek authors from the period after the Greek colonization of Sicily described three different indigenous populations: Sicels in the east, Sicani in the center and west, and Elymians in the extreme northwest of the island. From about 800 BC the colonization of the island by Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians began, who initially built their settlements mainly on the coast.

The most important Greek city of Sicily was Syracuse. The heyday of Greek culture was the 5th century BC, after the Greeks defeated the Carthaginians in the Battle of Himera in 480 BC. After Carthage had been unable to cover the growing demand for grain for itself and its mercenary army, the Carthaginians landed on the north side of the island.

The invading army destroyed most of the major cities of the Greeks and thus ended the heyday of the Greek culture on the island. Only Syracuse was able to retain its independence and rose in importance. Under Dionysios (reigning since 405 BC) Syracuse controlled the western Mediterranean Sea.

Due to a Roman victory in 241 BC during the First Punic War Sicily became the first province of the Roman Republic.The Carthaginians had to give up Sicily. In the year 212 BC Syracuse fell to the Romans despite the defensive measures of Archimedes. Sicily became one of the most important grain suppliers for Rome.

The coinage of Greek Sicily commences in the latter part of the 6th century. During the Syracusan supremacy the Sicilian coinage reaches heights of artistic brilliance only seldomly surpassed by other series in Greek numismatics. With the advent of Roman rule in the mid-3rd century the artistic level of die-engraving quickly deteriorates. The Romans allowed many Sicilian mints the right of issuing bronze currency, even after the fall of Syracuse.