Gurfa Caves (aka the Tomb of King Minos), Sicily, Italy.
- Gurfa caves are located in Sicily , near the town of Alia (province of Palermo). They are made up of six rooms dug into a red sandstone cliff without taking advantage of the natural cavities already present.
- The origins of the complex are uncertain and difficult to date because the rooms were used continuously until a few decades ago. From the surveys carried out, they are dated to 2500 BCE - 1600 BCE.
- The rooms are organized on 2 levels. there are two openings at ground level that lead into two environments that are different in size and most likely also in origin.
- From the entrance on the left you enter a vast trapezoidal-shaped room with a gabled ceiling that imitates a pitched roof.
- From here starts a corridor that leads to the other room on the lower floor, a room which can also be accessed from the second external entrance, on the right.
- Once inside, one is amazed by the enormous size of the room with an almost circular plan of about 13 m in diameter and a flared shape with a height of about 16 m.
- It is an enormous "thòlos" which in size can be compared to the Tomb of Agamemnon in Mycenae , and finds several architectural similarities with the hypogeum of Hal Saflieni in Malta.
- The highest and narrowest part of the room culminates with a circular opening that projects a beam of light inside.
The staircase carved in stone is what remains, most likely, of the initial part of the ramp, later in wood and no longer existing, which led to the first floor.
On the upper floor there are 4 rectangular rooms, a water tank, a corridor connecting these rooms and another one leading to the tholos at a height of about 7.70 m from the floor. All the rooms on this floor have a flat roof and each is illuminated by a window.
On the occasion of the spring equinox, which has always been one of the most important moments for agrarian populations because it marks the rebirth of nature, at noon the sun enters through the small hole at the top of the tholos and hits the center of the room.
Quite interesting is a hypothesis that the thòlos received the remains of Minos, the king of Crete - a very important personality of the Bronze Age, perhaps who, according to Greek mythology, died in an attack, during his journey to chase Daedalus, in the city of Camico (center of the Platani Valley still not identified today), while he was a guest of the king of the Sicans Kokalos.
Historians speak of impressive funeral ceremonies in his honor and a large burial built by Daedalus himself.
It is no coincidence that the thòlos della Gurfa is the largest of all those known in the Mediterranean .