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FAU Lecture Reports on Findings of Study Abroad Program in Sicily

BOCA RATON, FL (September 24, 2012) – Florida Atlantic University’s Study Abroad Program in Sicily resulted in several important finds during the summer of 2012 at the archaeological site of Rocchicella di Mineo. Among the discoveries were a votive deposit of ceramics from the Hellenistic period, an unusual dog burial from Late Antiquity, as well as a fifth century B.C. bronze coin. A report on these and other findings at the site will be given on Wednesday, October 3 at 4 p.m. in FAU’s Board of Trustees Room (Administration 305), Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road. The report will be presented by the director of the park that hosted the FAU mission, Dott.ssa Laura Maniscalco. She will also announce the continuation of the program in 2013.

Twelve students from FAU and two from other American universities participated in the 2012 summer excavation season directed by Brian E. McConnell, Ph.D., of FAU’s Department of Visual Arts & Art History. The project, administered through FAU’s Office of International Programs, was facilitated by an agreement signed by the FAU administration through the FAU College of Arts & Letters with the Assessorato per I Beni Culturali ed Ambientali of the Sicilian Regional government, and it was hosted by the Parco Archeologico della Ceramica del Calatino, which is directed by Dott.ssa Laura Maniscalco, who declared, “International collaboration has been a part of Sicilian archaeology from the start. It is important for the park to partner with Italian and foreign institutions for the development of our cultural resources.”

Rocchicella di Mineo is the site of ancient Palike’, the most venerated sanctuary of the indigenous Sikel people in antiquity. Located in the inland region along the present road from Catania to Gela, the site developed around a series of natural, boiling lakes, and it was occupied as early as the Paleolithic period with a continuous human presence through the Middle Ages. Monumental architecture of the Sikel sanctuary characterizes the remains from the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and early Roman periods (seventh century B.C. through the first century A.D.).

Work this summer focused on four areas. The first was a portion of a more than 300-meter-long canal that collected water from the low hill that is called Rocchicella. Students excavated a segment of the canal, finding a series of ceramic vessels that seem to have been deposited on a bed of small stones in the Hellenistic period. The second was a trench opened along a presumed roadway that connected the area of a monumental building at the edge of the site with a series of monumental buildings on terraces that rose before a large natural cavern in the Rocchicella. The trench confirmed the presence of the roadway, as well as that of a structure beneath it, which suggests that the road was built during a major period of change in the layout of the sanctuary during the Classical period. Continued excavation in this arealed to the startling discovery of a pit in which there were the remains of two dogs, which seem to have been sacrificed in late antiquity. Continued excavation at the summit of the Rocchicella, where FAU students had worked on the remains of an Archaic temple in 2004 and 2011, led to the discovery of a fifth century B.C. bronze coin.

Some of the more significant finds are being conserved and restored by the archaeological park during the academic year. In addition, Dana Quirey, a graduate student in Anthropology, pursued her master’s thesis on stone tools of the Copper Age (fourth millennium B.C.) that had been excavated at another location under the park’s jurisdiction.

For more information about the study abroad program in Sicily, please contact Brian E. McConnell, Ph.D., interim chair in FAU’s Department of Visual Arts & Art History, at 561-297-3870 or


About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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