Pyramids in Sicily: Forgotten Remnants of the Sea Peoples?
There is a fascinating architectural structure that comes to us from the distant past. It is found almost everywhere on Earth and many independent researchers propose a unique cultural origin for its presence over the millennia: this is the iconic and mysterious pyramid. Here we will focus on the amazing examples of pyramids in Sicily and their possible creators.
Different styles are represented in the world: stepped, rhomboid, pointed, elongated, or even cone-shaped - but all are called pyramids or pyramidal temples.
Although different in geographic position, size, or style, many pyramids have one or a few things in common: an orientation with the cardinal directions, an astronomical alignment with Sirius or the three stars of the Orion belt (especially noted with the pyramids on the Giza plain in Egypt), and/or alignments with other stars in accordance with the divinities worshipped by the populations which built them.
Different styles of pyramids. (Designed by Simon E Davis, author provided)
Pyramids in Italy and their Bosnian Counterparts
Although not very famous, even in Italy we have pyramids. Thanks to satellite observation, the architect Vincenzo Di Gregorio discovered three hill formations in 2001; these were modeled by man and used as astronomical and sacred sites. Called the Pyramids of Montevecchia, they are located in Val Curone, Lombardy, and are similar, if not in size at least in position and astronomical orientation, with the more famous examples found in Giza.
Unfortunately, very little has been done regarding the analysis or dating of these structures. Di Gregorio recalls that the Celts in Northern Italy were present around the seventh century BC and that the first forms of agriculture date back to about 11,000 years ago. This suggests that these northern Italian pyramids may have been built from 10,000 to 3,000 years ago.
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Pyramid of Sant’Agata dei Goti (BN). (Author provided)
The Viennese archaeologist Gabriella Lukacs, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Anthropology, has made an alignment and triangulation between the pyramids in Italy and the Bosnian ones. The layout shows that the Pyramid of Vesallo (Reggio Emilia) is in alignment with those of Sant’Agata dei Goti, Pontassieve, Vesallo-Montevecchia, Curone. It should be noted that Vesallo is located at the height of the Motuvun Pyramid (Istria), while that of Sant’Agata dei Goti is located right on the perpendicular of Visoko (Bosnia).
Alignments between Italian and Bosnian pyramids. (Gabriella Lukacs, author provided)
Pyramids in Sicily Need More Attention
Hypotheses and theories are also wasted for the mysterious pyramids discovered about 10 years ago in Sicily. They are about 40 and one of them is located right in the center of Sicily, near Enna, and called the Pyramid of Pietraperzia. Lacking certain data and references, such as provenance and dating, heated discussions are pragmatic. Most of these pyramids are located in a semicircle around the slopes of the Etna volcano in the Catania plain - the largest Sicilian plain that is cultivated with olive and citrus groves.
Measuring up to 40 meters (131.23 ft.) tall, stepped or conical, on a round or square base, intact or semi-destroyed, and sometimes with altars on the top, these pyramids were made with the technique of laying dry stones, using blocks of volcanic rock neatly positioned according to an exceptionally precise pattern. One of the popular construction features found in Sicily is precisely that - dry stone walls. There are many scattered throughout the countryside and the suburbs of cities delimiting roads and farms, especially because they have an excellent anti-seismic function.
For a long time, the local population has not given these structures much of a thought; they’re generally considered simple old structures that were used by landowners to control the work of farmers. Some are difficult to identify because they are located on private land and are partially covered by vegetation or even incorporated in the construction of private homes. Furthermore, the reluctance of the landowners, who fear that these pyramids will turn into monuments that require decrees and constraints according to the laws, prevents archaeologists or researchers from studying and analyzing these buildings.
However, research should continue because the recent discovery of ancient paths and water channels suggests the presence of an ancient civilization on the slopes of Etna. The pyramids could date to a time before the landing of Greek people in Sicily.
Pyramid of Etna. (Author provided)
According to some Italian historians, the buildings of the Alcantara Valley (oriented to the cardinal points) are only simple observation posts that were built between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Similarities Between Pyramids in Sicily and Tenerife
Sicilian pyramids have constructive similarities with the astronomical language of Barnenez's mound ("Cairn") (70 meters long, 26 m wide and 8 m high (229.66 ft. x 85.3 ft. x 26.25 ft.)) in Brittany, which archaeologists date to between 5000 and 4400 BC. They also show some resemblance to the famous Pyramids of Güímar in the Canaries on the Island of Tenerife.
These similarities raise the problem of dating the Sicilian pyramids and ignite the hearts of independent researchers and more conservative / orthodox archaeologists to find out more about their mysterious builders.
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Like the Sicilian pyramids, the Güímar Pyramids were also just considered to be the product of peasants' work. In fact, they demonstrate exceptional astronomical connotations that were discovered by the explorer Thor Heyerdahl, a famous Norwegian scholar who went to the Canaries in the 1960s.
Left: Pyramid of Güímar, Tenerife, Canary Islands (Mathias /Adobe Stock) Right: Pyramid of Etna in Sicily (author provided).
Antoine Gigal, founder of Giza for Humanity, independent French researcher, expert in Egyptology and author of numerous articles published in various languages, discovered the Sicilian pyramids thanks to some Italian photographers.
“I knew of the existence of a dozen pyramids from some Italian photographers, but during our exploratory mission we found about forty,” explains the French archaeologist. “All the pyramids, despite the different shapes, had a system of ramps or stairs access [sic] to the top with a privileged view of the top of Etna, a factor that could suggest a cult of adoration of the volcano.”
Who Built the Sicilian Pyramids?
These buildings have architectural characteristics similar to those of the pyramids of Güímar and this would suggest a very ancient origin for their construction. According to scholars, the Sicans may have been, before the arrival of the Sicani (and therefore before the 15th century BC), the same people who built some pyramidal structures in central Sicily.
According to a more fascinating thesis, the pyramids of Etna were built by the Šekeleš (or Shekelesh), a tribe of the Sea Peoples coming from the area of the Aegean Sea, and some archaeologists say they were the ancestors of the Sicans (or the Sicans themselves).
‘Sican pyramid.’ (Hotel Marconi)
According to British archaeologist Nancy K. Sandars, the Shekelesh built the pyramids. Originating in south-eastern Sicily, these people were experts in navigation. And many discoveries, such as amphorae at Monte Dessueri (near Gela, Sicily), are totally identical to those found in Azor, near Jaffa (Israel). Thanks to their mastery in navigation, they reached Tenerife and the island of Mauritius, building pyramids identical to those found in Sicily.
In the Odyssey, Homer refers to Sicily as Sikania and in classic texts it is called Sikelia - this is the origin of the name Sicans. These people were probably already there between 3000 and 1600 BC, then they amalgamated with the Neolithic population.
Evidence for the existence of another culture comes from the Bronze Age and classical antiquity: the Elysani (or Elymians, to whom the construction of the Temple of Segesta is attributed and the creators of a still undeciphered language) who emigrated from Anatolia and could be the descendants of the famous Peoples of the Sea. Thucydides reports that they were refugees who fled from Troy.
The survivors could be a group of Trojans who fled by sea and settled in Sicily and mingled with the Sicans. Virgil writes that they were led by the hero Aceste, king of Segesta in Sicily, who helped Priam during the war and welcomed the fugitive Aeneas, aiding him in the burial of his father Anchise in Erice (Erix).
To confirm the various hypotheses and the Trojan origins, it would be enough to perform DNA analysis on the bones that have been found. As always, economic and bureaucratic problems prevent quick solutions that would unravel doubts and mysteries.
The Elymian temple at Segesta, Sicily. (Oliver Taylor /Adobe Stock)
Moving to Ancient Sicily
It is not easy to establish which of the listed peoples built the pyramids in Sicily. Much of our knowledge of the ancient inhabitants of this island comes from authors such as the historian Diodorus Siculus (90-27 BC), who actually says very little about it, and Thucydides (460-394 BC, Athenian historian and military man, one of the main exponents of ancient Greek literature), who considered the Sicans a southern Iberian tribe. According to Thucydides, it was the Sicans who defeated the giant Cyclops.
It is known that the Sicans lived in autonomous confederations and had close links with the Minoan civilization in Crete (4000 - 1200 BC) and with the Mycenaeans (1450 - 1100 BC). It is also known that the Minoan civilization with which the Sicans were well-connected made a sudden leap forwards around 2000 BC and excelled among the cultures of the Mediterranean basin.
One theory suggests that this was due to contact with the ancient Egyptians, who divulged their techniques and shared commercial links with Mesopotamia. In fact, in the same period the Minoans invented a form of writing based on a hieroglyphic system.
Around 1400 BC there was a large migration of Sicels (Si’keloi) from the coasts of Calabria to Sicily and they mainly settled in the eastern part of the island, thus rejecting the Sicani to the west. The Greek historian Philistus of Syracuse (IV century BC), author of History of Sicily (Sikelikà), says that this invasion originated from Basilicata and was led by Siculus, son of King Italo, whose people had been forced to move from the Sabines and Umbrian tribes. In more ancient times this culture would have dominated the whole Tyrrhenian area, from Liguria to Calabria.
More recently, other researchers have proposed that Siculus and his people originated from the east instead. Prof. Enrico Caltagirone and Prof. Alfredo Rizza have calculated that in the modern Sicilian language there are more than 200 words that come directly from Sanskrit.
Influence of the Enigmatic Sea Peoples?
The origin and history of the Peoples of the Sea, an alleged maritime confederation, can only be seen from seven ancient Egyptian written sources. According to these documents, during the eighth year of the reign of Ramses III, of the Twentieth Dynasty, the Peoples of the Sea attempted to conquer Egyptian territory. In the Great Inscription of Karnak, the Egyptian pharaoh defines them as "foreign nations or peoples from the sea".
They probably came from the Aegean and, sailing towards the eastern Mediterranean Sea at the end of the Bronze Age, they invaded Anatolia (causing the collapse of the Hittite Empire), Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, and the New Egyptian Kingdom - this last one being less successful.
Attack of the Sea Peoples on Syrian fortification. Historical illustration. (Lunstream /Adobe Stock)
Although contested by many scholars, the people of the Shekelesh are only one of the nine that make up the ancient Sea Peoples. Altogether, they are: Deneyen, Ekwesh, Lukka, Peleset, Sherden, Shekelesh, Teresh, Tjeker, Weshesh.
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Champollion's description of the peoples, including Sea Peoples, named on the Second Pylon at Medinet Habu. (Public Domain)
Work to Solve a Complex Mystery
The mystery of the pyramids in Italy and Sicily is not easy to solve because it consists of a lack of reliable data, a historical tangle of known data, and myths and legends that overlap with more accepted historical facts.
Unconfirmed news suggests that a collaboration has been formed between the European Union and Tenerife scholars (including Vicente Valensia Alfonso, who has already worked with the University of Maine on the Spanish site of Güimar) to carry out an in-depth study on the whole area.
In the meantime, in-depth studies, research, exploration and ... scholars of good will… are needed.
Top Image: Pietraperzia, an example of one of the pyramids in Sicily. Source: Università degli studi di Catania