Dirillo River (Achates River), Ragusa Province, Sicily, Italy
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|Location is approximate, estimate based on other nearby localities.|
|Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):||36° North , 14° East (est.)|
|Margin of Error:||~37km|
|Köppen climate type:||Csa : Hot-summer Mediterranean climate|
|Name(s) in local language(s):||Fiume Dirillo (Fiume Acate; Flumen Achates), Provincia di Ragusa, Sicilia, Italia|
The Dirillo, or Acate, is a 54-kilometre river which springs from the Hyblaean Plateau and enters the Sicilian Channel southeast of the town of Gela. It forms most of the border between the provinces of Catania and Ragusa. Achates was the name anciently given to it by the Greek colonists and, later, by the Romans. The name Dirillo has a probable Arabic origin, in fact during the period of Arab rule the river was known as Wadi Ikrilu, i.e. "The River of Acrille" (an ancient Greek-Roman city, also reported as Acrilla or Akrillai/Ἄκριλλαι, that stood in the surroundings). Later, it generated the name Odogrillum, given in the early Middle Ages to an important settlement in this area, and the adaptations Dirillon and Dirillo.
According to Theophrastus (ca. 315 BC), Achates river (Dirillo river of our times) has given the name to "achates" (the present-day agate), a coloured variety of chalcedony that Greeks colonists found along the course of the river and exported in various localities of Mediterranean area. In Roman age, the naturalist and scientist Pliny the Elder and also the poet Silius Italicus quote in their writings that "achates" (i.e. agate) had been found for the first time here in Sicily, in Achates river, from which the stone took the name.
In particular, Theophrastus (ca. 315 BC) wrote: «καλὸς δὲ λίθος καὶ ὁ ἀχάτης ὁ ἀπὸ τῦ Ἀχάτῦ ϖοταμῦ τῦ ἐν Σικελία καὶ ϖωλεῖται τίμιος», i.e. « the achates is also a beautiful stone, it comes from the river Achates in Sicily and is sold at a high price».
Almost 400 years later, Pliny the Elder (ca. AD 77-79) wrote: «Achates in magna fuit auctoritate, nunc in nulla est, reperta primum in Sicilia iuxta flumen eiusdem nominis», i.e. «Achates was a stone formerly in high esteem, but now held in none, first found in Sicily near a river of that name».
Abbot Domenico Tata (1772) thoroughly described two specimens from this locality, part of his collection of Sicilian semiprecious stones.
1 valid mineral.
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Theophrastus [Θεόφραστος] (ca. 315 BC): On Stones [Περὶ λίθων], 31-32.
Pliny the Elder [Gaius Plinius Secundus] (ca. AD 77-79): Natural History [Naturalis Historia], XXXVII, 54, 139.
Tata, D. (1772): Catalogo di una raccolta di pietre dure native di Sicilia esistente presso l’abate D. Domenico Tata. Fratelli Raimondi, Napoli, 40 pp.