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Authors: Barone, F.* 
Imposa, S.* 
Carveni, P.* 
Mele, G.* 
Title: The Cava d’Ispica archaeogeosite in the Ragusa area, southeastern Sicily
Issue Date: 2009
Keywords: geosite
Cava d'Ispica
Subject Classification05. General::05.03. Educational, History of Science, Public Issues::05.03.99. General or miscellaneous 
Abstract: Geosites are valuable natural resources of a territory and represent the geologic heritage of a region. In southeastern Sicily several localities in the Ragusa area can be considered and exploited as possible geosites. The area that we propose in this study belongs to the calcareous Hyblean foreland that is part of the Pelagian block, in turn belonging to the northern continental margin of the African plate. The neogenic units of the Apennine-Maghrebide orogen are thrusted onto the Hyblean foreland from the north, while to the east the Hyblean foreland is bounded by the Hyblean-Maltese Escarpment toward the Ionian Sea. Among the active tectonic structures of the study area is the Ispica normal fault system that displaces the sector to the east by 80-100 m, forming the depression of Ispica-Capo Passero. The Ispica area is characterized by deep gorges, locally called “cave”, which origin is due to fluvio-karstic processes that acted along pre-existing structural discontinuities. In this work we describe in particular the Cava d’Ispica, a 13-km long valley extending in the NW-SE direction within the territory of Modica, Ispica and Rosolini. It is an area of relevant interest both for the beauty of the landscape and for its historical and archaeological importance. Inside the Cava d’Ispica is a number of caves of different size where the first inhabitants of the area used to live (the first settlings are dated 2000 b.C.). These caves also hosted the Sicilians escaping from the nearby coastal areas after the arrival of the Greek settlers. In the IV-V centuries hundreds of these caves were used as a cemetery complex, while during the barbaric invasions and the following Byzantin age (VI-IX centuries) they were mostly utilized by local people as shelters. At the entrance of the valley is the archeologic park called “Parco della Forza”, whose name derives from the latin word “Fortilitium” because of the presence of a fortress. In the northern part of the park is the unique and spectacular Centoscale, a well carved in the calcareous rock that, with its 250 steps, reaches the bottom of the valley located 60 m below. In 1972 the Soprintendenza ai Beni Culturali started an excavation in the Cava d’Ispica area and the archaeological findings are now exhibited within the Antiquarium museum of the park.
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