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The Archaeological Museum

 by Antonio Capano

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The planning idea of ​​a museum has been materializing since when, identified the archaeolgical area of Grumentum in the seventeenth century, and after the first accidental  finds after agricultural works, have been formed the two local collections (Danio and Perrone), nowadays largely dispersed. Following the first excavations in the urban area (Capitolium ) by the Archpriest  Carlo Danio, in the early eighteenth century, those of the late nineteenth century by the inspector  Caputi (others by Lacava and De Cicco are unpublished), and finally the works led by  Sestieri in 1951. But above all, thanks to  Dinu Adamesteanu, first Superintendent of Antiquities of Basilicata, which since 1969 has begun the regular exploration of Grumentum urban area, later assisted by  Liliana Giardino.

The restoration of several historic buildings that made it possible, in the eighties, thanks to regional contributions (Law 80/87) also the complete reading of the amphitheater plan and good part of the Forum, provided, together with the first scientific exploration carried out thanks to the collaboration with the Department of Roman Archaeology at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and the definition of a project for the construction of a park in the archaeological area of Grumentum (opened in 2000), the content for an exhibition to be presented in a separate museum building.

It is, therefore, provided by Paola Bottini already the realization of a main body (A), articulated on 4 distinct levels, where in the first two have been located the places used for the reception of visitors and collective and educational services, deposits, the restoration laboratory, the photographic studio, while in the third and fourth the areas for offices and the library.

The project, developed in 1983 by the architect Renato Proietti in collaboration with the architect Claudio Suri, started just for the part relative to the central body, in 1984, was completed during 1988. In 1995, it has been set up a temporary exhibition, with which begins the museum path, after the entrance and ticket office, where is located the control room of the surveillance personnel, in a hall extended for about 422 square meters; continuing to a circular staircase connecting to the underlying level (originally intended for conference and temporary exhibitions), occupied by a rectangular room adjacent to the stairs, by a larger exhibition hall, which involves 425 square meters, including two small rooms, of which one expositive, and the other dedicated to workshops and small conferences.

Currently are under construction the two external buildings that will allow exposure of the archaeological finds discovered in recent years.

The Museum. The collections

In the National Archaeological Museum of the Upper Agri Valley, whose first catalog was edited in 1997 by Paola Bottini, the exhibition begins with a section dedicated to Prehistory: from the locality San Giuliano come fragments of a tusk, molar teeth, bones of straight-tusked elephant, and some teeth of equus that attended, about 500,000 years ago, the upper Agri Valley, then Pleistocene lake basin.

Following the exposure of the documentary exhibition "The geo-paleontological evolution of Upper Agri Valley" (2009) were added new findings coming from Marsico Nuovo (Brachiopoda: Spiriferida from locality Pietra Maura, Jurassic, about 200 million years ago), from Moliterno (siliceous shale of the Triassic inferior-Jurassic), from Viggiano (Rudists: extinct bivalvia), from San Martino d'Agri (Benthic Foraminifera Eocene: nummulites), from San Chirico Raparo (Travertine of the Pleistocene with imprints of leaves), from Aliano (from sands: Scallops Lower-Middle Pleistocene, about 700,000 years ago).

At the ripe Bronze age (second half of the second millennium B.C.) are related the findings from the seasonal areas, linked mainly to the paths of transhumance, of Civita di Paterno, and Murgia Sant'Angelo di Moliterno, with the characteristic slurry ceramic ( carinated bowls with raised handle, used to draw milk or shake it in more capable vessels).

The archaic kits of the female burial from locality San Donato di Marsiconuovo (VII century B.C.), with bronze ornaments (bracelets and spiral ring, wire earrings) and the male one from locality Agri in the same city, are documenting the Archaic age in the museum, while to Lucan age (late V/IV- early third century B.C.) are reported the domestic oven found in a farm in locality Piani Parete di Montemurro and the burial places in localities Vracalicchio and Fosso Concetta in the same city , which points out the role of warrior for male depositions (belts, spears) and the domestic sphere for female ones (wedding lebes), which are enriched with red-figured vases coming also from the note workshops of the "painter of Roccanova" and "Painter of Haken."

The Hellenistic period is also represented by the rural sanctuary, discovered near the church of St. Marcus in Grumento and dating from the fourth-early third century B.C., probably dedicated to the goddess Mephitis or to goddesses propitiatory of fertility (seated statuettes, some of which supporting a kalathos filled with flowers, or a small pig) or to the wild and chthonic world: Artemis Bendis with feral skin).

In the lower level, dedicated to Grumentum, are exposed remains of marble statues of Imperial period, coming from the Forum, including the veiled head of Livia Drusilla, widow of the Emperor Augustus, the cuirassed bust of a general, perhaps Tiberius, a colossal hand pertinent to a statue of a magistrate, while an ivory pyxis with Dionysiac scene in relief (II-III century A.C.) is currently deposited at the Museum of Metaponto, after having participated in several editions of exhibitions about Dionysus and the wine. Then are attested the cultural sphere with the torso of Harpocrates, found near the Temple of Italic kind (Temple A), and the private one, with the lead pipe bearing the family name of the Stasi and the craftsman Eperasto and a panther-shaped trapezoforo (a table support) (from the Domus of mosaics, III-IV century A.C.).

Public are the inscriptions related to the emperors Tiberius (I sec. A. C.) and Septimius Severus (III sec. D. C.), and between the last discovered, that one celebrative of the Emperor Claudius, and another private dedicated to a girl "sweet as honey", who died eight years old. It has recently been recovered from a dilapidated rural building in which was walled up, the important inscription, already published, related to the dedication of the wife of a greek grammaticus present in the city, who likely had the functions of a teacher or tutor in a wealthy family or for more students. Next to it an epigraphic fragment resembles a public banquet celebrated during some auspicious event for the city.

The rich medal collection contains coins of  Republic and Empire Roman era.

Moreover, we have to add a sarcophagus of II / III sec. A.C. decorated with festoons,  bucrania, kalathoi, and masks, reused in late antiquity, recovered at the church of St. Laverius; kits (mid-seventh century A.C.) of the necropolis situated in front of the entrance of the church of St. Marcus, and the late medieval bas-relief depicting the young martyr Laverius (312 A.C.), regent of the palm of martyrdom and the Book of the Law.

The museum also presents temporary exhibitions, opened in occasion of events promoted by the Ministry: for instance those dedicated to the worship and pilgrimage from antiquity to contemporary age, to the Roman empresses and the power, to ancient myths related to love.



Copyright text and images (where there aren’t other references) by Antonio Capano.