Mesolithic cave art at Addaura.
Evidence for human settlement in the area now known as Palermo goes back at least to the Mesolithic period, perhaps around 8000 BC, when a group of cave drawings at nearby Addaura represent a new level in the representation of the human figure. According to Thucydides, the Sicani people arrived from the Iberian Peninsula (perhaps Catalonia).During 734 BC the Phoenicians, a sea trading peoples from the north of ancient Canaan, built a small settlement on the natural habour of Palermo. Some sources suggest they named the settlement "Ziz." The Greeks, who were the most dominant culture on the island of Sicily due to the powerful city state of Syracuse to the east, instead called the settlement Panormus. Its Greek name means "all-port" and it was named so because of its fine natural harbour. Palermo was then passed on to the Phoenician's descendants and successors, the Carthaginians.
During this period it was a centre of commerce; however a power struggle between the Greeks and the Carthaginians broke out in the form of the Sicilian Wars, causing unrest. It was from Palermo that Hamilcar's fleet (which was defeated at the Battle of Himera) was launched. Palermo eventually became a Greek colony when Pyrrhus of Epirus gained it during the Pyrrhic War period in 276 BC. However, as the Romans flooded into Sicily during the First Punic War, the city came under Roman rule only three decades later. The Romans made sure that, in the words of Roman consul M. Valerian to the Roman Senate; "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily". This period was quite a calm time for Palermo, which was growing into an important Roman trade centre. Also during this period Christianity first began to be practised in Palermo.
The Middle Ages
San Giovanni degli Eremiti, a church showing elements of Byzantine, Arabic and Norman architecture.
As the Roman Empire was falling apart, Palermo fell under the