Motya, an islet in the Marsala Lagoon, is the earliest Phoenician settlement (c. 8th-4th centuries BC) in western Sicily. The almost complete absence of modern buildings makes it one of the most favourable places to undertake large-scale investigations of a Phoenician foundation. The so-called Luogo di Arsione (nowadays known as “Area V”) entwines some pivotal episodes in the city’s history, shedding new light on their interpretation.

The project aims at the comprehensive study and publication of an area on the northern coast of the island, where part of the necropolis, the city-walls and the industrial quarter are located. Apart from enhancing our understanding of the cemetery, the final report will give insights into the economy of Motya – by examining the industrial quarter (c. 26.7 x 22.5 m), where a purple-dye factory, a pottery workshop and an extremely rich inventory of artefacts are attested (c. 6th – 4th centuries BC), and will reconsider the dramatic episode of the siege by Dionysius of Syracuse in 397/396 BC.

The drawing and digitisation of the small finds, architectural fragments and pottery from V. Tusa’s excavations at Motya’s industrial area have been completed thanks to the generous MAT grant. By funding the work of two illustrators, this grant enabled substantial progress to be made towards the publication of the final report.

Fig. 1: Motya: aerial view of the Archaic Necropolis, the city-walls and the so-called Luogo di Arsione, from the north-west (adapted after S. Moscati (ed.), I Fenici, Milano: Bompiani, 189)
Fig. 2: Motya, Area V, US.256: selection of finds from well W.6 (photo by Adriano Orsingher)

For further information, please contact Dr Adriano Orsingher (Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Institute of Biblical Archaeology) at or check his profile at


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