Sicily used to have a different name before
the current one (we would call it Sicania): it
originated from the �Sicani� people: anthropologists
tell us that the �Sicani� had nothing in common with
the �Siculi�, who came later. The former originated
from Libya, and geologists admit they could have come to the western part of
the island when a strip of land emerged during glacial eras used to connect
Africa to Sicily, therefore these people were of Camitic origin. About 1,000 BC these people were
exterminated by the Carthaginese.
The History of Sicily
of Sicily begins with the history of Europe, during the upper Paleolithic
(20,000 � 10,000 BC): it was populated by peoples of the modern human type.
Settlements and new civilizations followed in waves, then followed by new ones
over and over: the Phoenician, the Greeks, the Arabs (the Moors)�..
The most ancient Sicilian culture we know is
dated around 10,000 BC (as established from rock carvings at Mount Pellegrino),
followed by others until in the Eneolithic (Copper age,
3,500-3,000 BC) the island began to be subjected to ever increasing influences
by oriental and Mediterranean civilizations.
During the same period, either before or
after the disappearance of the �Sicani�, on the
eastern part of the island began to land the �Siculi�,
a Pelasgic tribe, of hindo-european
origin, therefore Semitic. Before the arrival of further migrational
waves of Phoenicians first, then Greeks, local populations had already melted
and the only name left was �Siculi� (hence �Sicily�).
Between the end of the 9th century BC and the
beginning of the 8th century BC, when major political readjustments in both the
Middle East and the rising Hellades (Greece)
occurred, the exploration of the Sicilian island resumed: first with just some
scouting, then (tradition places it around 734 BC) the Corinthians founded the
city of Siracusa and right after that (in 728 BC) the
Megarese founded the city of Megara Iblea. In 688 the Rhodese (from
the island of Rhodes) and Cretese (from the island of
Crete) founded Gela (today a major oil refinery center, editor�s note), while
the Calcidaeses founded Messina, Reggio, Nasso, Taormina (on the island), Lentini,
Catania. In 580 BC the people of Gela founded Agrigento and Selinunte.
Over a century span, the Greeks completely changed Sicily�s face: politically,
socially and culturally.
Phoenicians landed there too, but only to
establish trading bases.
The relationship between the occupiers and
the local populations were fairly good, which favored the process of �hellenization� (i.e. absorption of the Greek culture) of
the territory, also because the new culture and the associated political system
were very much appreciated, since 1) they provided benefits for everybody and
2) they came from millenarian oriental civilizations, and brought new
technologies which began to change the island outlook.
Only the Siculi of Siracusa rebelled against the Greek hegemony, and it was
this city, ever more powerful, which extended its supremacy over the island,
and, keeping Carthago at bay, favored the economic,
cultural and political evolution of the island, which lasted over 4 centuries.
This period�s wonders, can be admired at the Archaelogical Museum of Siracusa,
amongst the richest in the world.
However the Siracusans
could not dodge the Roman hegemony, which began in 241 BC. Their domination
terminated in 476 AD, when the Romans where not only unable to conquer anything
else, but not even to defend themselves.
After the fall of the Roman empire, there was an invasion by Theodoric�s Ostrogots in 493 AD, a very bad period of byzantine
domination (535 AD, 827 AD). Then the Arab invasion (probably requested by some
locals, to stop the byzantine�s oppression). The
Moors landed at Mars-Allah (Allah�s port), today�s Marsala,
and beat the Byzantines. In 831 AD they entered Palermo, in 859 AD Enna, in 902
AD Taormina. So inserted in the Islamic area of influence, Sicily experienced a
long period of growth, both economically and culturally. This is when things
such as the citrus cultivation (still a major economical resource today), water
seeking technologies (new for the times) and new agricultural tools were