December 2, 2011

Museo Archeologico di Amelia: Artifacts from Amelia Spread to Other Collections in 19th century

Mars attacking (Rome, National Etruscan
 Museum of Villa Giulia)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

I attended ARCA's Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime Studies in 2009, fell in love with our host town, Amelia, and have returned each subsequent summer for ARCA's International Art Crime Conference. However, I have never spent enough time in the archaeological museum to appreciate or learn about the town's history. Last July I abandoned my usual table on the patio of Bar Leonardi and not only dawdled for a few hours in the museum, but photographed many objects and the associated information that had kindly been translated into English. Then I uploaded the photographs into my computer and forgot about them until two weeks ago. In support of the museum's work, I will be offering a series of blog posts on sections of the antiquity section and later the art gallery.

Amelia's collection of cultural property displayed in the Museo Archeologico di Amelia (Archaeological Museum of Amelia) began with an excavation of a Roman theatre along Via di S. Elisabetta in 1820.

A "significant number of Amelia artifacts (bronze and lead votive objects)" according to the museum were "put on the antiquarian market and ended up in Italian and foreign museums and collections."

Statuette of Demeter (London, British Museum)
A partial list from the museum includes the following:
A group of small votive bronze objects from the Archaic period is preserved at the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome (before it was at the Museum Kircherianum). 
A bronze statuette depicting Demeter on a chariot is from the collection at the British Museum in London. 
The 19th century excavations conducted in Pantanelli unearthed a series of votive figurines cut from lead foil. They were purchased by Baron E. de Meesert de Ravestein prior to 1864 for his collection and are now in Brussels. 
A bronze laminetta engraved in epichoric Umbrian characters on both sides (opistographic), found near Santa Maria in Canale, is currently preserved at the National Museum in Naples. The chain of events that ultimately brought the tablet to Naples began in 1788, when it came into the hands of the Benedictine abbott G. Di Costanzo, who purchased it from the Amelia antiquarian G. Venturelli. Di Costanzo then gave it to Cardinal Stefano Borgia, whose heirs sold it to the Bourbon Museum in Naples in 1817. 
An Imperial marble altar and two inscriptions are at the Vatican Museum. 
The altar, dedicated to the goddess Fortuna by Curiatus Cosanus, is now in Florence. In the 16th century, it was documented in the Church of Santa Firmina. It was then taken to Spoleto and is now part of the Bardini Collection.