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A Brief History of Sicily: Background information when reading The Sicilian Inheritance

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The Sicilian Inheritance by Jo Piazza

The Sicilian Inheritance

A Novel

by Jo Piazza
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  • First Published:
  • Apr 2, 2024
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A Brief History of Sicily

This article relates to The Sicilian Inheritance

Map showing Sicily to the southwest of Italian mainlandWe may think of Sicily today as merely an extension of the Italian mainland, but the island has its own unique history that dates back thousands of years and reflects the cultural, political, and economic influence of numerous civilizations.

Because of its convenient location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily has long been a site for merchants and travelers, notably the Greeks. Three Indigenous groups populated the island before Greek colonization in 750 BCE: the Sicels in the east, the Sicani in the center, and the Elymi in the west. The Sicels, whose origins the ancient historian Thucydides traced back to mainland Italy, spoke an Indo-European language, but the languages of the other two groups are unknown. At the arrival of the Greeks, who set up colonies throughout the island, Sicily underwent a significant Hellenization, and consequently very little is known today about these ancient Indigenous cultures. The most significant of these colonies was Syracuse, which ...

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