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Prizzi

The origins of Prizzi are shrouded in mystery like the etymology of its name which appears in the form of Peritium in the ancient Norman diplomas. It is difficult to establish if and when the inhabitants of the ancient archaeological site that stands on the opposite Mountain of Horses moved there. On the top of this already in the eighth century Sican tribes settled with which already from the sixth or perhaps earlier enterprising Greeks established commercial relations. The numerous excavation campaigns conducted on the acropolis, starting with the one started by prof. Nenci of the Normale of Pisa. and continued for the diligence and the financial commitment of the various mayors who have followed one another, have brought to light the fortifications with the walls and defense towers and the plan of the vast site that testifies a continuous presence up to the Hellenistic period (centuries IV-III BC). The splendid artifacts found, the cultic environments of the acropolis and the large auditorium of the theater, which is highlighted in the basin at the northern base of the walls, denote a high index of civilization in the center, astounding prosperity for a city so interned between the mountains and proven by the vast necropolis that stretches over tens and tens of hectares in a laughing hillock open to the sunset sun, formed by thousands of burials, some of which are monumental, sumptuous in structure and in the very rich funerary equipment, precious ceramics and refined jewelry and of rare beauty, large amount of coins, generally Punic, but also numerous Greek and other Italic, important heritage of the "Salinas" archaeological museum in Palermo, but also treasure and strong core of the local Museum in Corso Umberto, structured in three sections : mineralogical, prehistoric and archaeological.The site, according to common opinion, is to be identified with the Hippana (for heaven's sake, save the insistent havoc of Hyppan a) of Polybius I 24, 10, destroyed by the Romans in 258 a. C., identical to the Sittana di Diodoro XXIII 9, 5. The Romans had to evaluate its strategic importance, as evidenced by the famous milestone, which revalued the ancient Hellenistic road coming from Agrigento, which they repaired and adapted. inhabited reality of the following centuries, only in the Byzantine age do we find certain traces of settlement in the territory, documented only archaeologically through finds, acquired in 1976 and preserved at the "Prähistorische Staatssammlung" of München in the section of the "Museum für vor-und Frühgeschichte". The collection gathers artifacts, “assigned to two tombs in a cemetery of unknown size, which each time contain only one vase (glass or earthenware), purchased from a private owner. The place of discovery I must be located about 2 km south-south-west of Prizzi ". In one it was found "in absolute good condition", a stupendous, "glass, very tall and slender, in light greenish glass, almost dull, with an omphalo base and a solid slightly rounded mouth, 13.7 cm high". Other precious terracotta finds were found in an unspecified Byzantine cemetery of Filaga of unknown location and unknown size and found in five tombs. The Byzantine roots in the territory is also testified by toponymy, such as the localities Cerames-Ciaramitaro, "the ciaramiti place", Fitalia, "the plantation", Filaga, the Sòsio river. The Byzantine presence on the top of the Prizzi mountain is historically proven by testimony of 'Alî' ibn 'abî Bakr' al Harawî, an indefatigable globetrotting pilgrim from Mossul, therefore called "the stray". Happened in 1175 in Sicily, in his Notes on places to visit on pilgrimage, in advising the visit of the Sicilian places sacred to the cult of Mohammed, he wrote: "In the Qal'at Brzzû (Rocca di Prizzi) is the tomb of 'Abû' al Hassân 'ibn Mu'âwîah' ibn Hudayg Sakûnî. They say that this fortress and the castles of the island were conquered by him. They also say that this Hassân took on [the task] of killing Muhammad 'ibn' abi Bakr and burning [his corpse]. After all, God knows the truth ”. In fact, when the fortresses of Caltabellotta and Corleone fell, around 840 also that of Prizzi surrendered to the Saracen warriors, led by the old qadi 'Asad' ibn 'al Furât, improvised supreme commander (amir al-giaysh), and excited from faith in Islam and from the fanaticism of gihad, the "holy war". The town welcomed tribes, mainly Berber, on its summit and in the flourishing fields, who changed not only the toponymy, but also operated a beneficial exploitation of the territory, irrigating gardens and vegetable gardens with the numerous favare of the territory and creating gebbie and catusi. And in the ancient Byzantine castle that one day resounded with the pass of the sculptures, in the chapel where Christòs anésti and the Byzantine litanies echoed, from the high nest of kites the Allah akhbar resounded in the valleys! of the muezin who warned the faithful scattered around the numerous hamlets. Even today, the town with its narrow streets in "scalinate", the narrow alleys, the silent courtyards, the suspended arches and the dry stone walls, unmistakably recalls the warp of Arab countries. The population of the territory was so widespread that at the time of King Roger II and the great El-Idrisi, in addition to the Arabian Barazzû-Prizzi, it boasted thriving farmhouses such as Raja, Guddemi, Hancarmutu, Margana, still the Byzantine Fitalia. That the Norman Pirizium-Perizium corresponded to the previous Saracen village transcribed with Brzû-Barazzû (or perhaps better Birizu?) And that it was with certainty of large demographic consistency, is evident from the detailed description, which he made eighteen years later, around 1154 , the great geographer al-Idrisi in his precious and famous Book of Ruggero: Barazzû-Prizzi "is a castle (hisn) of a beautiful site and of great fortitude, with an inhabited village (rabad), running waters, sources, lands to sow that they extend distances and productions [to be extracted] very large income ". The community was so prosperous that one of our distant Muslim countrymen could afford to make the prescribed pilgrimage to Mecca, becoming hagg al-amir, that is "the lord of pilgrimage", whence the district where he lived became Gaggialamara. The territory of Prizzi entered fully into history through certain historical documents only after its Norman conquest, which probably took place around 1077, and with the creation and confirmation by Count Roger of the diocese of Agrigento. When in 1093 the count raised a "Chair with pontifical infule" in the city of Girgenti and placed bishop Gerlando at its head, Prizzi, "a conspicuous land prior to the conquest", he was present with his titles, tithing rights and parochial rights in the diocese whose borders are described in the precious Rogerii Siciliae et Calabriae comitis privileium.

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