Pantelleria (Sicilian: Pantiddirìa), the ancient Cossyra (Maltese: Qawsra, now Pantellerija), is an Italian island in the Strait of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Sicily and just 60 km (37 miles) east of the Tunisian coast. Administratively Pantelleria is a comune belonging to the Sicilian province of Trapani. With an area of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi), it is the largest volcanic satellite island of Sicily. History Archaeological evidence has unearthed dwellings and artifacts dated at 35,000 years ago. The original population of Pantelleria did not come from Sicily, and was of Iberian or Ibero-Ligurian stock. After a considerable interval, during which the island probably remained uninhabited, the Carthaginians took possession of it (no doubt owing to its importance as a station on the way to Sicily) probably about the beginning of the 7th century BC, occupying as their acropolis the twin hill of San Marco and Santa Teresa, 2 km (1.2 mi) south of the town of Pantelleria. The town possesses considerable remains of walls made of rectangular blocks of masonry, and also of a number of cisterns. Punic tombs have also been discovered, and the votive terra-cottas of a small sanctuary of the Punic period were found near the north coast. The Romans occupied the island as the Fasti Triumphales record in 255 BC, lost it again the next year, and recovered it in 217 BC. Under the Empire it served as a place of banishment for prominent persons and members of the imperial family. The town enjoyed municipal rights. In 700 the island was conquered by the Arabs, who named it بنت الرياح Bint al-Riyāḥ 'the daughter of the winds', which represents the strong winds that arise off the north coast of Africa. In 1123 Roger of Sicily took the island, and in 1311 an Aragonese fleet, under the command of Lluís de Requesens, won a considerable victory here, and his family became princes of Pantelleria until 1553, when the town was sacked by the Turks. A naval battle took place close to the island in July 1586 when an armed English merchant fleet of five ships managed to repel an attack by eleven Spanish and Maltese galleys. A Siculo-Arabic dialect similar to Maltese was the vernacular of the island until the late 18th century, when it was superseded by Romance Sicilian. However, the modern Sicilian dialect of Pantelleria contains many Arabic loanwords and most of the island's place names are of Semitic origin. Pantelleria's capture was regarded as crucial to the Allied success in invading Sicily in 1943 because it allowed planes to be based in range of the larger island. Pantelleria was heavily bombarded, from both air and sea, in the days before the scheduled invasion, and the garrison finally surrendered as the landing troops were approaching. The capture of Pantelleria was called Operation Corkscrew and it played a part as a vital base for Allied aircraft during Operation Husky. Geology The island of Pantelleria is located above a drowned continental rift in the Strait of Sicily and has been the focus of intensive volcano-tectonic activity. The 15-km-long (9.3 mi) island is the emergent summit of a largely submarine edifice. Two large Pleistocene calderas dominate the island, the older of the two formed about 114,000 years ago and the younger, Cinque Denti caldera formed about 45,000 years ago. The eruption that formed the Cinque Denti caldera produced the distinctive Green Tuff deposit that covers much of the island, and is found across the Mediterranean, as far away as the island of Lesbos in the Aegean. Holocene eruptions have constructed pumice cones, lava domes, and short, blocky lava flows. Post Green Tuff activity constructed the cone of Monte Gibele, part of which was subsequently uplifted to form Montagna Grande. Several vents are located on three sides of the uplifted Montagna Grande block on the southeast side of the island. A submarine eruption in 1891 from a vent off the northwest coast is the only confirmed historical activity. Currently the island is undergoing a period of subsidence, and Montagna Grande is slowly sinking. This is thought to be caused by the magma beneath the volcano cooling and degassing. There are also numerous hot springs and fumaroles on the island, due to an active hydrothermal system. Favara Grande, in the south east of the island, is one of the best examples. The island is also releasing a small amount of CO2 through passive degassing. The island is the type locality for peralkaline rhyolitic rocks, pantellerites. The island is fertile, but lacks any fresh water. The principal town (pop. about 3,000) is on the north-west, upon the only harbour (only fit for small steamers), which is fortified. There was also a penal colony here. Climate Main sights A Middle Bronze Age village was situated on the west coast, 3 km (1.9 mi) south-east of the harbour, with a rampart of small blocks of lava, about 7.5 m (25 ft) high, 10 m (33 ft) wide at the base and 5 m (16 ft) at the top, upon the undefended eastern side: within it remains of huts were found, with pottery, tools of obsidian, and other artifacts. The objects discovered are in the museum at Syracuse. To the south-east, in the district known as the Cunelie, are a large number of tombs, known as sesi, similar in character to the nuraghe of Sardinia, though of smaller size, consisting of round or elliptical towers with sepulchral chambers in them, built of rough blocks of lava. Fifty-seven of them can still be traced. The largest is an ellipse of about 18 by 20 m (59 by 66 ft), but most of the sesi have a diameter of only 6 to 7 m (20 to 23 ft). The identical character of the pottery found in the sesi with that found in the prehistoric village proves that the former are the tombs of the inhabitants of the latter. Wine Pantelleria is noted for its sweet wines, Moscato di Pantelleria and Moscato Passito di Pantelleria, both made from the local Zibibbo grape. Transportation The island is served by Pantelleria Airport, which is served by Alitalia and Meridiana. The island can be reached by ferries from Trapani, and lies close to the main route from east to west through the Mediterranean. See also List of volcanoes in Italy Italy–Tunisia Delimitation Agreement References This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. External links pantelleria.co.uk "You cook with capers, but do you know what they really are?". The Splendid Table. April 4, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2014. Calls Pantelleria "caper heaven".