Morgantina, situated on the mountain ridge of Serra Orlando, is an old Sikel town. In the sixth century B.C. Greek migrants from Catania arrived there and set up their own settlement, alongside the Sikel one, which also continued to exist. In general, that these two groups should choose to co-exist was a very infrequent occurrence.
The town, which was surrounded by a wall almost 10km/6mi long, extended right up to the summit of the Monte Citadella, on which stood the Greek acropolis.
Morgantina was destroyed in the first half of the fifth century B.C. by the Sikel prince Duketios, who wanted to create a kingdom for the Sikel tribes. Syracuse carried out the reconstruction of the town. In the following period those areas were established which have been uncovered during excavations which the University of Princeton has been conducting since 1953.
The historian Diodor described Morgantina in the first century B.C. as important and well fortified. Further excavation work should yield a reliable history of the town. Excavations The heart of the excavated area is the agora with its surrounding buildings which date from the fourth and third centuries B.C.; apparently some parts which were started early on were never completed for unknown reasons.
The excavation site comprises a rectangular area which was surrounded on three sides by halls. Parallel to the entrance path is a 90m/295ft hall which was used as a gymnasium and was where sporting events took place. Behind it there is a number of small rooms. On the east side stood a stoa which on the inside was divided into two aisles by a row of columns. The walls were covered with stucco and paintings. A similar stoa was probably intended to be built on the west side opposite, but it was left unfinished. The bouleuterion on the corner was probably used as an assembly room. Almost in the center of the open area enclosed by these halls, there was a square market building (macellum).
To the south of this, a curious set of steps has been uncovered; they do not run in a straight line, but twice describe an obtuse angle and had a double function: firstly, they divided the higher northern part of the agora (the market), described just above, from the lower part in the south, which was given over to public use. Secondly, its steps served as rows of seats for public assemblies, something which can definitely be assumed to be a fact, as a speaker's podium has recently been discovered.
Directly to the south of the steps the rest of the religious buildings can be seen, and presumably were connected with a shrine to Demeter from the fourth century B.C.; they include round sacrificial altars to the chthonic (underworld) gods. A small theater, which clings to the western slope, opens out on to these buildings. In the east the lower agora is adjoined by a building almost 100m/330ft long, which has been identified as a public granary. In this area were also situated a pottery kiln and a melting furnace (both now covered over). To the east above the agora there are dwelling quarters which can be visited. Here there were peristylar houses which were built as late as the Greek and Roman periods. These include the house of Ganymedes, known for its mosaic floor which depicts the rape of Ganymedes by Zeus's eagle (second century B.C.).