Just a hundred meters off Pantelleria’s main road, and just under ten minutes south from the island’s main settlement, a round stone mausoleum represents the most impressive evidence of an ancient civilization. These structures were crafted by a group that inhabited the island 5,000 years ago.
The so-called Sese Grande, (sese is a local island term for a pile of rocks) is an impressive funerary monument reaching almost 20 feet (six meters) high. The 12 cells inside the structure can be reached through corresponding corridors.
In some cells, archaeologists during the 19th-century discovered pottery and sarcophagi. There was also evidence that showed once all the cells were occupied, the builders of the Sese sealed the corridors. The dead were buried in the fetal position with their feet facing the corridors. The sheer size of this Sese earned it the nickname Tomb of the Kings or the Great Sese.
The civilization who built this and another sese nearby are believed to have settled on the island after arriving from Northern Africa. They lived in small communities as hunters, small-scale farmers, and herders. Their villages were fortified and their tombs were located outside the communities on lower land. One of the main reasons the builders of the Sesi settled on the island was its rich obsidian deposits, which could be fashioned into more sturdy weaponry.
Not much is known about the decline of this megalithic civilization, although several centuries went by between its disappearance and the arrival of the Phoenicians.
Know Before You Go
The site is always accessible and there is a small parking area nearby.