NATIONAL ETRUSCAN MUSEUM
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
The National Etruscan Museum is housed in the Albornoz Fortress, built by Cardinal Gil Alvarez Carillo de Albornoz, general vicar of the domains of the Church in 1354. Starting in 1960 the building was renovated after the damage suffered during the last World War, it has passed from military hands to artistic custody, becoming a museum in 1981. The exhibition is spread over three levels, starting with a section dedicated to local Etruscan architecture in Viterbo, introduced by artworks. In this space are exposed materials found in the centers of S. Giovenale and Acquarossa during excavations conducted by the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies of Rome, which started on 1956. The second room gives you a true reconstruction of the ancient dwellings of Acquarossa, characterized by gable roofs supported by wooden beams: the roofs were covered by tiles with raised edges, and these were covered with clay tiles, which on the superior part of the ceiling presented a central acroterium. In the next room are preserved tiles decorated with animal motifs, while others, with sime, which is a decorative elements placed along the eaves of the roof tiles, which depending on the position they held, they would be decorated with lions or lotus flowers, a typical taste of Greek people. The fourth room houses architectural reconstructions made of terracotta from Acquarossa: these buildings are divided in different settings that are accessed through a portico, supported by wooden columns with capitals of granite. The exhibition continues in the last two rooms located on the ground floor, in which are preserved respectively an acroterium from the second half of the sixth century BC and an actual reconstruction of the Etruscan area in Acquarossa. The upper floor houses exhibits from Ferento and Musarna’s centers. The Roman city of Ferento, built not far from the center of Acquarossa, was an active city since the third century BC. It became a municipality (municipium ) in the first century BC. In the following century the main buildings of the city were constructed, like the forum, an amphitheater, and the theater. From the theater comes the muses from the Severian age, these are stored in the first room: located on a decoration of niches in the lower level of the place, they were found in 1902 in a pit in front of the theater by the scholar Luigi Rossi Danielli, along with a Pathos, Roman copy of the famous statue of Skopas. The statues, after being acquired by the Italian State and exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Florence, were transferred to Viterbo in 1984. In the second room of the first floor are preserved artifacts from Musarna, a site located west of Viterbo. The excavations, which at first were intended only to the necropolis area, were directed by the Superintendent, in collaboration with the Ecole Française de Rome, started in 1980’s. This excavation allowed scholars to acquire information about water supply and defensive systems and essential materials of life in the center, such as a marble statue of Hercules, two money hoards made of silver found underground, and a mosaic panel with Etruscan inscriptions, demonstrating the process of Romanization that affected this area since the end of the second century BC. Recently the top floor of the museum was finally opened, which houses a number of archaeological evidence from areas characterized by the presence of the necropolis, as Blera, Norchia, Barbarano and Castel d’Asso. A separate space has also been allocated to the tomb of the Biga of Ischia di Castro, discovered in 1965.
NATIONAL ETRUSCAN MUSEUM OF VITERBO.
Traduzione di Vivian Cottrell dell’Università di Reno, Nevada. Studentessa del Programma USAC presso l’Università degli Studi della Tuscia.
Texts and photos courtesy of the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Southern Etruria.