On the island today known as San Pantaleo, in the last decades of the eighth century b.C. the Phoenicians founded a city that was called Mozia. The strategic location enjoyed by the city of Mozia drew the attention of the Greeks and Carthaginians, who long fought for dominate the city itself. Mozia came to its end in 397 b.c. when Dionysius of Syracuse occupied and destroyed the city, forcing the inhabitants to run away, seeking asylum in the town today known as Marsala. The Archaeological Site of Mozia was originated thanks of Joseph Whitaker: after purchasing the island, he opened the first archaeological excavations, which from the nineteenth century to today have led to the discovery of an outstanding historical and cultural heritage.
Some of the archaeological remains of Mozia are partially underwater, since from the time of domination of Phoenician, the sea has increased its level of about half a meter. Nevertheless, the ongoing activities of the excavations brought to light some great-valued finds. Following the conventional route, the first element to visit is the House Of Mosaics, a vast housing complex whose name comes from the pavement decorated with white and black cobbled mosaic. Originally Joseph Whitaker chose to name this building the House of the Capitals, because this architectural element is one of the most identifying traits of the find.
After the House of Mosaics the next thing to visit in Mozia is the South Gate, a monumental structure characterized by two different towers having different size; the South Gate was as a protection for Capo Boeo, as well as the guiding way that the ships used to take from the open sea into the Laguna dello Stagnone; after the South Gate, visitors can admire the so-called Kothon: behind this name there’s a water tank, whose main use was linked to a series of rituals that took place inside the temple.
Following the main path of the archaeological site visitors can see the shrine of Cappiddazzu, whose name translates to “Large Hat”. Studies conducted on the site of Mozia assumes that the sanctuary was built in four different phases: the first, dating from the seventh century b.C., when the foundations of the sanctuary were laid; the second, in the second half of the same century, when a first building flanked by a well was built; the third, in the fifth century b.C, linked with the creation of many architectural elements such as the Egyptian capitals, and finally the fourth stage, which took place in the fourth century b.C, when the tripartite plan building was completed.
Some of the remains found during the excavations are contained within the museum located on the island, among them visitors can see the famous statue known as “The Young Man of Mozia”, as well as another sculpture made of white marble created by an anonymous artist. What makes this statue so interesting is the mystery which surrounds it: nobody has never been able to define with accuracy its style and its meaning.