Mount Circeo

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Monte Circeo or Cape Circeo (Italian: Promontorio del Circeo, Latin: Mons Circeius) is a mountain remaining as a promontory that marks the southwestern limit of the former Pontine Marshes. Although a headland, it was not formed in the same way as headlands are usually formed, by erosion of the coast, but is a remnant of the orogenic processes that created the Apennines. The entire coast of Lazio, in which the mountain and the marsh are located, was a chain of barrier islands formed on a horst, made part of the mainland by sedimentation of the intervening graben.

Monte Circeo, as it is sometimes also called in Italian, is located on the southwest coast of Italy, about 100 km south/southeast of Rome, near San Felice Circeo, on the coast between Anzio and Terracina. At the northern end of the Gulf of Gaeta, it is about 5 km long by 1.5 km wide at the base, running from east to west and surrounded by the sea on all sides except the north. The land to the north of it is 15 m above sea level, while the summit of the promontory is 541 m. While the headland is quite steep and hilly, the land immediately to the east of it is very low-lying and swampy. Most of the ancient swamp has been reclaimed for agriculture and urban areas. The mountain, the coastal zone as far north as Latina, including the only remaining remnant of the swamp, and two of the Pontine Islands offshore, Zannone and Ponza, have been included in the Circeo National Park.

The mountain is composed mostly of marl and sandstone from the Paleogene and of limestone from the lower Early Jurassic.

Contents

Prehistory

In 1939 the skull of a Neanderthal man was found by a team lead by Alberto Carlo Blanc in the Guattari Cave; and several other findings also prove it was inhabited in prehistorical times.

Ancient Roman times

The origin of the name is uncertain: it has naturally been connected with the legend of Circe, and Victor Bérard (in Les Phéniciens et l'Odyssée, ii. 261 seq.) maintains in support of the identification that Aiaia, the Greek name for the island of Circe, is a faithful transliteration of a Semitic name, meaning "island of the hawk". The difficulty has been raised, especially by geologists, that the promontory ceased to be an island at a period considerably before the time of Homer; but Procopius remarked that the promontory has all the appearance of an island until one is actually upon it (see [1]).

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