Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century
It was probably a rural mosque from the Norman period that was built, along with the fortified settlement, on high ground by an Islamised population fleeing the lands that were being progressively conquered by the Normans. It is not clear whether it served just the village or the entire surrounding area. An Islamic necropolis has been discovered nearby.
The arrival of a Christian feudal lord towards the end of the AH 6th / AD 12th century saw the area become a lordly residence, with new building work carried out within the Islamic settlement and a church erected. As a result, the mosque was demolished and the building materials reused.
The settlement was slowly abandoned and even the lord’s residence fell into ruin during the second half of the 13th century.
The remains of the mosque, which at the current stage of archaeological investigation appears to be the only surviving sacred Islamic building in Sicily, are located in the immediate vicinity of the ancient theatre of Segesta, outside the fortified area of the late medieval settlement. It is laid out over an irregular rectangle 20.5 m long and 11.4 m wide, and was constructed in a single phase using a uniform building technique (limestone blocks bound with mud). The floor is bare rock. The mihrab niche on the south side, correctly oriented to within a few degrees of southeast, is 2 m wide on the inside and 1.5 m deep. It is rectangular on the outside and protrudes from the wall by about a metre. There are no traces of a minbar.
The mosque was split into two naves by a line of three columns, of which only the bases have survived. It would have been covered with a tiled roof and did not have a porticoed courtyard or a minaret nor even, at the current stage of excavation, did it appear to have a fountain for ablutions.
The remains of the mosque can be found in the immediate vicinity of the ancient theatre of Segesta, outside the fortified area of the late medieval settlement. It is laid out over an irregular rectangle with the mihrab niche on the south side, correctly oriented a few degrees to the southeast. It was probably a rural mosque from Norman times, which was built, along with the fortified settlement, on high ground by an Islamicised people fleeing the lands gradually being conquered by the Normans.
From the discovery during excavations of ceramic remains dating back to the 6th / 12th century.
Molinari, A., Segesta II: Il Castello e la Moschea (Scavi 1989–1995), Palermo, 1997.
Siculo-Norman Art: Islamic Culture in Medieval Sicily, pp.213–15.
Pier Paolo Racioppi "Mosque" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;it;Mon01;14;en
Prepared by: Pier Paolo RacioppiPier Paolo Racioppi
Laureato e specializzato in storia dell'arte presso l'Università di Roma “La Sapienza” sta conseguendo il dottorato di ricerca in Storia e conservazione dell'oggetto d'arte e d'architettura presso l'Università di Roma TRE. Ha svolto attività seminariali presso l'Istituto di Storia dell'Arte all'Università La Sapienza di Roma e attualmente è docente di storia dell'arte del Rinascimento presso la IES at Luiss (Roma).
Ha pubblicato diversi contributi sulla tutela artistica, il collezionismo e le accademie d'arte, ed ha collaborato al Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani dell'Enciclopedia Treccani.
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: IT 14
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Normans in Sicily | Islamicised Communities Before and After the Norman Conquest The Fatimids | Mosque and Palace
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