[3] Sandbags, sandbags and sanbags!

View of the Temple of Concordia (early 20th-century postcard).

Protecting antiquities in Sicily could be extremely hard. Sicilian archaeological sites are sometimes vast including big monuments, temples, huge buildings, ancient houses, etc. Agrigento can be considered one of the most well-known archaeological sites in Sicily. It still has a variety of temples which scholars consider crucial to understand the evolution of Greek architecture in Sicily and in the entire Greek world.

Goffredo Ricci and then Pietro Griffo operated in Agrigento to safeguard antiquities. The later took service at the beginning of World War 2. It was responsible to control an important site which was put at serious risk by military activities and interference carried out by the Italian army. How could he protect monuments? This was certainly a hard (or even ‘impossible’) job considering the vastity of some structures. Thus, he opted to install some huge scaffolding and ask the Ministry of Public Education to provide him thousands of sandbags. A sandbag was a sack filled with sand which was leaned on a structure in order to protect it against bombing.

However, the main scope of sandbags was to softened the effects of bomb blasting. Thus, Griffo tried to cover only a part of the major Temple of Concordia: the rest remained uncovered. If a bomb felt on the structure, no sandbag would have save it! From archival records, we know Griffo ordered tens of thousands sandbags for Agrigento’s site…a massive amount for a big site.

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