Selinunte, ancient sima with lion head found

Discovered in Selinunte an ancient sima: a marble lion's head in perfect condition. Restoration will begin in the coming months, but in the meantime it will be on display from next Saturday at the Baglio Florio antiquarium.

Discovered in Selinunte by archaeologist Jon Albers during research conducted by theUniversity of Bochum is anancient sima, or upper end of a temple roof: a marble lion’s head in perfect condition.

It is an imposing archaeological find, about 62 centimeters high and weighing more than 250 kilos. In the past, some very large decorations, about 70 centimeters high, from the Temple of Heracles in Agrigento and the Temple of Victory in Himera, made of high-quality local limestone, had been found, but this one, made of marble imported from the Greek islands, perhaps from Paros, seems to be more valuable. A very rare material, considering that in the fourth century B.C. these decorations were made of terracotta and later of stone.
The sima had the dual function of beautifying the temple and collecting rainwater, which was then drained from spouts in the shape of a lion’s head.

Restoration of the find will be started in the coming months, at an open construction site, with the collaboaration of German and Italian experts, and meanwhile from Saturday, August 26, it will be on display at the Baglio Florio antiquarium in the Selinunte Archaeological Park. It will be presented in the presence of Ortwin Dally, director of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome, archaeologist Jon Albers and Selinunte Park director Felice Crescente.

“This is an extraordinary discovery, when one considers that there are only nine 5th-century temples with a Greek marble sima in all of southern Italy and Sicily,” commented the councillor for Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, Francesco Paolo Scarpinato, “and it suggests that Selinunte still has much to tell us. Even the very fact that it was found in the port area and in the immediate surroundings of the ancient city’s kiln district allows us to advance hypotheses about both the city’s trade contacts and the technical skills of its inhabitants.”

Although the block is much better preserved than other similar finds, it is not fully completed due to the lack of the characteristic water spout; the rear mane of the lion is also missing, and the decoration at the top of the slab has not been finished. Precisely because of these conditions, the sima not only suggests the existence of a hitherto unknown marble roof in Sicily, but also provides a better understanding of the production processes of these architectural elements.

Selinunte, ancient sima with lion head found
Selinunte, ancient sima with lion head found