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Ancient Tyndaris

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dave the WriterHere, Greeks fought the armies of Carthage before the Romans even cared. Those Greeks, after being driven out of the western Peloponnese in 396 BC, founded the city of Tyndaris on a high, craggy bluff that looms steeply over a lovely, sandy lagoon.

Surrounded by fertile land, the town, now called Tindari, is almost 40 miles west of Messina at the northeastern tip of Sicily. Back in the day, it was closer to the Carthaginians who ruled western Sicily than any other colony built by the Greeks. Long runs of the city’s original walls, made with massive marble stones still stand, attesting to constant ownership disagreements.

By 269 BC, the Romans had advanced and the town sought protection from Carthage. Then, the Greeks thought better of that choice, but Carthage held them fast. By 254, the Tyndarians managed to break away and become part of Roman Sicily.     

Later, when the famous orator, Cicero, governed the island, Tyndaris was one of its most prosperous and loyal cities. But, horribly corrupt Roman governors and civil war changed that, and the city declined fast. Think Detroit in the last 50 years.

This painting is of the largest Roman ruin still standing at Tyndaris.

This photo looks down at the lagoon, now filled with sand after 2,400 years.

After the Roman Republic fell, a great earthquake dropped half the town and part of the bluff into the sea more than 500 feet below. Then came the fall of Rome in the West and 1,000 years of Muslim pirates and other bad stuff. By the 19th century only a church and ancient ruins remained on the bluff.

Today, a few shops and homes accommodate visitors. A large, modern church, built in the 1950’s, is richly decorated as the Sanctuary of the Black Madona of Tindari, a beautiful ancient statue recovered from the ruins.

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