Are there pyramids on Mt. Etna? According to some historians, mostly foreigners, yes. Research published about five years ago by a French historian, Antoine Gigal, identified forty “mysterious” buildings in the countryside at the foot of the volcano. They are very similar of the sacred buildings of Central America. Just like the Mexican square pyramids, but in the Sicilian version. Or, the Sicanian!

According to the study, in fact, these buildings were built stone by stone by the ancient inhabitants of Sicily. They, in turn, had learned that art from the Shekeles people, which existed on the island centuries earlier. They were mainly sailors. The pyramids could have been seen and copied during one of their trips, perhaps to very ancient African civilizations, or even to Egypt.

Square pyramids

pyramids etna2
photo copyright BALARM

The strange buildings documented with photos have large square bases made up of thousands of black lava stones. On these foundations other “floors” rise, ever tighter, ending with a cube at the top. Maybe an altar? In some of these buildings you can see stairs and sometimes side doors. Were they graves?

Pyramids with this shape are found, as well as in South America, also in the islands of Mauritius and Tenerife. Some are also found in the countryside of Israel. They recall some prehistoric constructions, such as the Sardinian Nuraghes, or the mounds of Pantelleria. But what were they for? And why do they arise all around the great Sicilian volcano? Some scholars are still convinced that they are seeking a great mystery, so continue to look for their origin.

Mystery or just agriculture?

In 2017, however, an expert in Sicilian rural architecture, Dr. Fabrizio Meli, challenged the fabulous theories of French scholars point by point. No mystery and above all no millennial finds! The pyramids do exist, of course, but they are only mounds created by the peasants as they tilled the land.

The large lava stones, which hinder the plowing of the fields, are collected on the sides of the land and  used to build enclosure walls. On other occasions – as you can see on the north side of Etna – the piles of stones were arranged in a pyramid shape. Sometimes these “pyramids” were empty inside and were used as tool sheds or to store crops. Their age? Not older than 200 years!

Where are the pyramids located?

But do not be disappointed with this conclusion, which is much more logical than the French one. If they are not sacred and mysterious buildings, they are still human works of great historical value. They are not found everywhere, and should be preserved and cared for as an important heritage. In fact, they tell of an agricultural working method that is no longer used today.

Seeing them is not easy. Many arise between Linguaglossa, Randazzo and Francavilla di Sicilia at the center of agricultural estate. They are often covered with vegetation, or surrounded by rows of vines. To photograph them – unless they are visible from the street – you will need to ask the landowners permission. And you won’t always get it. All you can do is just continue dreaming of ancient millenary civilizations, waiting to admire these fascinating mounds of black lava up close.


Autore: Grazia Musumeci


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