Cammarata -San Giovanni Gemini

Your next destination in Sicily in the Sicani mountains

Una montagna di eccellenze

Taken from the book by Monsignor Domenico De Gregorio  "Cammarata news on the territory and its history" of 1986

If, with certainty, one could explain the meaning or etymology of the word Cammarata, one could, in a certain way, illuminate the problem of its origin; but the hypotheses in this regard are very different and conflicting.

First of all, it must be said that the documents we consult bear your name in the form of Kamarata or Kamaratás if Greek, in that of Camerata if Latin and Camerata or Cammarata, if Italian.

The popular pronunciation of the name is Cammarata, exactly like this, without any of the phonetic variants, so often used by our people, which have a precise value, as they trace a different pronunciation, origin, form or writing of the same name.

This is especially noticeable in the toponyms of Arabic origin which present many variations in writing and pronunciation. (17)

 

The fact that the pronunciation of the name Cammarata, along the course of the centuries and in the mouth of the people, is always, without uncertainty, Cammarata, indicates an intact permanence of the word. Camerata, always attested by written usage, is it to be considered, taking into account the Greek documents, as a Latin translation or is the Greek Camarata an adaptation to the original Camerata? It seems difficult to answer one way or the other, but the agreement between the Greek diction and the popular pronunciation is singular, despite the tina form of all the documents and that of Camerata which is repeated in handwritten or printed Italian texts. The Biancorosso writes: "several historians believe that the name of the mountain must go back to Cam, others attribute it to the Aborigines. Kamarak seems to be a Sican name" (18). However, he does not report any document and does not add any evidence of Sican or aboriginal origin and many historians are reduced to only Caruso and Alimena who, moreover, does not speak of Ham. In fact, Caruso and Alimena, after having written that the name of the mountain passed to the town, adds verbatim (19):

"Cui quidem nomen indidit curve convexae molis figure. Is nam speciosissimam molem instar immensi fornicis cur vatam attentente observantium oculis ostendat et Camerata idem est quod curvata, ducto ethymo a cama- quod phoenicorum idiomate cumu. Sonat ut diligenter notavani descriptis urbani Orlandisque latini ingenuosos phoenices secuti, fornicem càme ram dixerunt et Camerata aedificia constructa (20 ". The mountain is always called Cammarata in neighboring countries and far away Cammarata is black, it is hooded, it is free, they say.

 

The term, as Biancorosso reports it, could also be a Sican name, but, apart from the lack of historical documentation - currently being very few names of certain Sican derivation - the change from guttural k to dental t is not possible for laws of phonetics, especially since one could find a Sanskrit Kmrati or an Indo-European Kmrt, with the same meaning of vault, curve, if one wanted and, one could, really go back to such a remote and undocumented etymology.

 

The Friend believes that it derives from chamber, vault or cave (21) while Tardia criticizes the Greek origin of the word and the idea of a reference to an existing cave in the mountain and prefers to derive it from the Arabic Kamarat, glans, acorn or from Chamrat, wine. The Pasca (22) and the Di Marzo follow the Tardia. Calvaruso (23) does not agree. de the hypothesis of an Arab origin of the name, but writes that "if the name is to be attributed an Arab origin, as Massa, Tardia and Pasqualino believe, it could be invoked or the Arabic Kammarat, tavern, osteria , for some famous tavern that existed there in ancient times, as a stop for travelers, or the Arabic Kamrat, wine, for being this town, although alpine, rich in gardens and vineyards (24) ".

Calvaruso, however, before the quoted sentence, had written these words "In Edrisi it is found in the Arabic form of Qammaratah and in Yagut under that of Qimratah, but neither one nor the other makes sense in the dictionary; instead, the transcriptions seem to me different of a pre-existing name (25) ". This statement is confirmed by Msgr. Giuseppe Sacco, famous lover of oriental languages who enriched the history of the city of Sciacca dello Scaturro with his learned observations on Greek, Arabic, Spanish and Catalan names persistent in toponymy, surnames and dialect of Sciacca. Il Sacco notes acutely that: "several geographical names of the most important regions and cities (the name of Sciacca was always written in the same way by the Arabs) were transcribed now in one way and now in the other, precisely because of non-Arab origin, such as Sicily ( place of rest) or any Rahl.Otherwise it is very difficult to explain that they came and changed its name, making us forget the primitive. The history of the Arab nomenclature of Sicilian cities only confirms this deduction. No city of any importance lost its ancient name, following the occupation of the Arabs. (27)

 

These considerations can also be applied to the name of Cammarata which, both for the variety of Arabic transcriptions, for the permanence of its intact form in the documents and in the mouth of the people and for the authority of Calvaruso, should not be considered of Arab origin.

 

Cascino, quoted by the Friend, (28) believes that the word is of Greek origin and would allude to the cave that crosses the mountain, so also the Mongitore thinks (29).

In Greek the word Kamara actually exists: vault, vaulted room, vaulted dome or vault of a sepulcher, ear cavity and the derivative Kamaroo: I build a vault I build a vault. It should be noted that the first two vowels a are long and, consequently, not undergoing vowel softening, they retain this sound and this would explain the permanence of the term. Found (30) remains uncertain between the Greek and Arabic etymology, although it seems to prefer the former.

 

A comparison between the name of Cammarata and that of many other countries of Arab origin, such as Sciacca, Raffadali, Calamonaci etc., clearly demonstrates that it lacks the characteristic elements of the Arabic language and toponymy; even the interpretation of the name as indicating wine, for the abundance of vineyards, or acorn, for the many acorn trees or for the fertility of the soil, seems strange to us, being a mountainous area, certainly not more fertile than the neighbors nor richer in vineyards, gardens and orchards.

If the name of Cammarata were to have a reference to the flora of the territory, it would be preferable to relate it to the Greek term "Kammare which indicates the euphorbia dendroides which in our dialect is still called càmmaru and cammarùni - and of which the countryside around the country abound.

It should be added that other names in the toponymy of southern Italy also refer to this term, such as the Cammara district, near S. Lorenzo nel Reggino and the Cammaruso district near Laurito in Cilento.

 

The name of Cammarata, from Kammaron, with the suffix "ta", could very well indicate a territory rich in euphorbia dendrides. ) and Pliny the menalona only in the Greek form Kammaron.

 

“E” - he adds - a typical survival of a word from western and certainly pre-Hellenic Magna Graecia (Sicula?). In Greece the word is unknown (31) "

 

Our territory was dominated for a long time by the Sicilians; this Relikwort. as Rohlfs calls it, would it be a spy of the very remote antiquity of Cammarata?

 

Euphorbia, which is a pleasant-looking plant - even if poisonous, from which the Sicilian word “cammarari” could interest those who first inhabited our districts, especially for its medicinal virtues and therefore also serve as their denomination.

While not completely probative, we believe that the arguments on the non-Arab origin of the term Cammarata are acceptable, we are brought back to the question of the origin of the country, whether it existed before the Arabs, was it founded by them, or after them.

17) This is attested by, among others, the names of Racalmuto who plays Racarmuto, Ragarmuto, Ragalimuto, Raglalmuto, Racharmuto in the mouth of the people: of Canicatti who plays Cchannicatti and in the writing Candicatti; di Licata, such as La Licata, Alicata Caltabellotta which varies in Cartabillotta and Catafidotta, etc.]

 

18) Biancorosso, op. cit. page 10.

 

19) To which mountain he gave his name its curved figure of a convex mass. In fact, in the eyes of those who carefully observe it, it shows the beautiful bulk as of an immense archway and Cammarata means curved, from an etymology derived from cama, which in the Phoenician language sounds «cumu, as Orlandino diligently notes in the description of the city of Trapani and the Latins, following the ingenious Phoenicians called the archway chamber and the vaulted buildings chamber

 

20) Francesco Caruso and Alimena. Documents for the history of Cammarata. Manuscript volume in which various documents for the history of Cammarata are collected or transcribed, including two Greek parchments. It is kept in the Municipal Library of Palermo. At the signature Qq-D3 f.51

 

21) Friend Vito. Topographical Dictionary of Sicily by VA translated from Latin and annotated by Gioacchino Di Marzo. Palermo, 1855. Vol. I, pag. 222

22) Cesare Pasca Historical and statistical outline of the Municipality of S. Giovanni and Cs-macerata of the abb. Cesare Pasca in Journal of sciences, letters and arts for Sicily directed by the Bar. Vincenzo Mortillaro. No. 178-179. October, 1837, p. 9 n. 2. For DI Marino, Cir. Friend oc p. 225, nl.

23) Calvaruso GM. The Arab-named villages of the province of Girgenti in Akraga, a magazine of history, archeology and folklore of the province of Girgenti. Year II 3 of 1-3-1R13

24) F. Tardia Description of Sicily extracted from an Arabic book by Scherif Eldri in Collection of Sicilian brochures vol. VIII p. 332 n. ninety two.

25) Calvaruso, ibid. Qammráth is also read in some of Edrisi's texts.

26) The Scaturro. History of the city of Sciacca. Naples, 1929 vol. I, p. 153.

27) Ibid. page 158.

28) Cammarata mons ex Cascino in Kamara graeco vocabulo appellatus quod fornix, testudo camera est latinis. In eo enim crypta seu antrum longissime ca meratum the vault) extat ab ecclesia S. Eliae circa occasionum petens, atque ad op positum montis latum Tribicum appellatum, a flumine S. Petri haud procul exitum praebens. (To the voice), Mount Cammarata, according to Cascino, is called with the Greek word from Kamara which for the Latins means fornix, tortoise, that is gal leria or shelter. In fact, in it there is a very long vaulted cave or cavern from the church of S. Elia, facing west and then exiting on the opposite side of the mountain, Tribico chismata, not far from the S. Pietro river.

29) To Mongitore. Sicily sought, vol. II, p. 302.

30) G Found. Arab survivals in Sicily. Morreale, 1949, p. 129

31) Kammaron .. "Wort der dorischen Griechen in der Magna Graecia (nach Diodor und Zenon) bei Plinius nur in der griechischen Form Kammaron erwaehnt ... Typisches Reliktwort der westlichen Magna Graecia; wohl praehellenisch (siku lisch?). In unbekann Griechenland ". Gerhard Rohlfs, Lexicon graecanicum Italiae inferioris. Etymologisches Woerterbuch der unteritalienischen Graezitaet. Max Niemeyer Verlag. Tubingen. 1964.

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