Motya Whitaker Museum
The "young man" - open

To the imbarcadero - open

Panorama - open


At the end of the 19th century, the isle of Motya was bought by Joseph Whitaker, an heir of an important English family who often resided in Palermo, at Villa Sophia, during the summer.
While staying in Marsala where he was to work in his uncle Benjamin Whitaker’s wine factories, Joseph had the opportunity to visit the isle of Saint Pantaleus, and notice its interesting archaeological value.
With Giuseppe Lipari Cascio’s help, he promoted a project and an excavation program that started in 1906 and lasted until 1927.
In those years, the archaic necropolis, the Mosaic House, the House of Amphoras, some parts of the wall belt, a Punic-Phoenician sanctuary in the Cappiddazzu area, and the famous sanctuary of  Tofet were dug out.
His house on the isle, now the Whitaker Museum, became a small antiquarium where the excavation findings were exhibited.
After his death, his wife and two daughters, Norina and Delia, continued his extraordinary cultural activity.  At Delia’s death in 1971, the present foundation was established.
The Whitaker Collection constitutes the precious evidence of the archaeological research carried out at Motya, Birgi, and Lilybeum.
Thanks to J. Whitaker’s work, the Museum holds archaeological findings from systematic excavations and other pieces found by chance.  Further donations and purchases have been added.
The archaeological material has continued to increase so as to fill up all the shelves, ledges, and cabinets in a complex exhibition.
The sculptural complex of the two lions biting a bull, and the Capitals of the Mosaic House were placed at the house’s entrance.
Besides the Young Man from Motya, the Museum exhibits funerary equipment from the isle’s archaic necropolis, Greek, Phoenician, and Etruscan commercial amphoras, a rich series of black-painted vases with red figures from Birgi necropolis, findings from necropolis, Motya districts, and the Mosaic House.  There are also jewels, weapons, amulets and scarabs, objects with original inscriptions, instruments for cosmetic and surgical use, and fragments of inscribed steles that have arrived from Tofet.
The jewels are mostly of silver and bronze, some are of gold, of good quality, and are dated between the 7th and 4th century B.C.
The gems are engraved and are cornelians, amber and rock crystal coming from Lilybeum.  They belong to the typical Hellenistic and Roman production.


Placed in the Whitaker Museum, the Young Man from Motya was dug out on October 26th, 1979 near the K area adjacent to Cappiddazzu Sanctuary during some archaelogical  excavations.  The statue is of marble, of a coarse crystalline grain, with colour traces.  It probably reached the height of about two metres.  It seems possible to attribute it to a Greek artist, with reference to sculptor Pythagoras from Reggio and the severe Selinunte sculpture school – probably for a Punic client.
Many scholars attribute the oeuvre to the 5th century B.C.
The young charioteer, a man with a valiant and athletic body, seems to drive the winning cart.
Other hypotheses lead the scholars to different interpretations of him, such as  priest, god, magistrate, Gelon, the tyrant, Daedalus.