Palermo and the myth of the Giants
21 February 2019

Palermo and the myth of the Giants

Sicilian myths and legends that have written history

Bones of ancient animals at the Museum Gemmellaro in Palermo.
animals bones at the Gemmellaro Museum

Sicily is rich in myths and legends, many of which link the birth of the island to the existence of giants.
The myth of the Giants of Palermo was born after the discovery in 1527 of hundreds of giants bones in some caves of Monte Grifone, in San Ciro. These bones, so big, immediately made us think about the existence of giants more than 6 meters high. So began to circulate rumors about how these giants lived, stories also fed by classical litterature that told of Sicilian giants, the most famous of which is Polyphemus (to whom is attributed the formation of the Faraglioni of Acitrezza).

In 1831 a report was published that sheds light on this story: the bones belonged to animals, such as deer, hippos and elephants. New legends were born: it was thought that they were the bones of the elephants with whom Asdrubale was defeated by the troops of Cecilio Metello. But once again it had to be denied: these animals had lived in a previous era, prehistory.
Only in 1867 were all the bones put all together and it was possible to go back to ancient animals: wolves, deer and hyenas to give some examples.
Today it is possible to admire some examples at the Gemmellaro Museum of the University of Palermo.

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