1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tyndaris

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TYNDARIS, an ancient city on the northern coast of Sicily, about 13 m. W.S.W. of Mylae (mod. Milazzo) and 5 m. E. of the modern town of Patti. It was founded by Dionysius the Elder in 395 B.C., who settled there 600 Peloponnesian Messenians on a site cut out of the territory of Abacaenum (1 m. north of the modern Tripi). It was thus almost the last Greek city founded in Sicily. It was one of the earliest allies of Timoleon. In the First Punic War it was dependent on Carthage, but expelled the garrison in 254 B.C. and joined the Romans, under whom it seems to have flourished. Cicero calls it “ nobilissima civitas," though it seems to have suffered especially under Verres. It was one of the points occupied by Sextus Pompeius, but was later on taken by Agrippa, who used it as a base of operations. Augustus probably made it a colonia. Pliny mentions that half of it was swallowed up by the sea, though he does not give the date of this event (Hist. nat. ii. 206). It was probably, however, due to a fault in the limestone rock of which it is composed, and the action of the sea. The site is a remarkably fine one, and it is surprising that it was not occupied sooner. It is an isolated hill (920 ft.) with projecting spurs, rising abruptly on the seaward side, and connected by a comparatively narrow isthmus with the lower ground inland. It thus commands a magnificent view, including even the summit of Etna, while opposite to it on the north are the Lipari Islands. Considerable remains of the city walls, built of rectangular blocks of stone, exist on the south side; on the west their foundations are traceable. Remains of several towers may be seen, and the site of the main gate, which was in a recess on the south (the land) side, is clearly traceable, .the walls defending it on each side being well preserved. Outside it are several tombs of the Roman period. The walls follow the upper edge of the plateau, and do not seem to have included the spurs to seaward. Their remains indicate that it was the north and north-east portion of the city that fell. This fact renders it doubtful whether the church of the Madonna di Tindari, at the east extremity, marks the site of the acropolis. Along parts of the north side, where the line of the wall should run, is a line of débris, which may belong to a reconstruction after the catastrophe described by Pliny. Within the walls are considerable remains of a building generally known (though not correctly) as the gymnasium, constructed of masonry, with three narrow halls, each about 90 ft. long, the central hall being 21 ft. wide, the other two 14 ft. Below it to the north are remains of a building with several mosaic pavements, and to the west is a small theatre, the internal diameter of which is 212 ft., and the length of the stage 80 ft. There are traces of many other buildings within the city area, including a considerable number of underground cisterns. An important collection of objects found on the site is preserved in the Villa della Scala (1½ m. to the west), belonging to Baron Sciacca, the owner of the site itself.

See R. V. Scaffidi, Tyndaris (Palermo, 1895). (T. As.)