Andrews University Sicily Excavation: Belice Valley Project


Sicily is an island to the southwest of the Italian peninsula. At more than 9,920 square miles, it is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Due to its position at the crossroads of Europe and North Africa, and between the eastern and western Mediterranean, the island was a land of conquest until modern times. People as diverse as the Phoenicians (who developed commercial networks), the Greeks and Romans (who built important towns), the Arabs (who introduced new architectural models for agriculture), and the Normans, the Swabians and the Spanish (who built Gothic and Baroque Christian churches), all contributed to the culture and history of Sicily. Thanks to this rich history and material culture, the island is brimming with amazing sites.  We have been invited by the Sicilian authorities to excavate in the Belice Valley, which is located in southwest Sicily and is home to a variety of small sites that have yet to be excavated from the Late Bronze Age to the Medieval Period. These sites were home to Phoenicians, Mycenaeans, Greeks, Romans, and Early Christians.

During the summer of 2014, students from the Institute of Archaeology at Andrews University initiated a new excavation in western Sicily, exploring the emergence of early Christianity there. According to the book of Acts, Paul landed at Syracuse on the eastern shore of Sicily and it is thought that Christianity spread from there. Andrews doctoral students conducted new excavations at a Roman village at San Miceli (Salemi) that was occupied during the critical transition time when Romans adopted the new faith. The Andrews team excavated a significant building at San Miceli from this important time period; in the same ancient village they also uncovered the ruins of possibly the earliest Christian basilica on the island.*

Andrews University Institute of Archaeology plans to continue excavating in Sicily in the summer of 2015. We are pleased to be working at San Miceli, in the Salemi area.

If you are interested in joining us, please go the the Participate page for more information.

*Thanks to Dr. Randall Younker and Dr. Elisabeth Lesnes for some of the above text.