Archaeological and Art Museum of Maremma

Just a few steps from the main street, Corso Carducci, rests the Museum of Art and Archaeology of the Maremma in Piazza Baccarini. To be found in the museum is an ample selection of archaeological artefacts from Roselle and the rest
of the Maremma region, as well as many other temporary exhibits of varying nature. The museum is considered to be one of the most important in Tuscany thanks to both the quantity and quality of the works and artefacts on display. The history of the museum begins in the second half of the 19th century, when the canonic Giovanni Chelli, a priest from Siena, began amassing a collection various objects with no sort of scientific precision.
His collection even included a selection of Etruscan funerary urns from a range of provenance which he showcased, along with the rest of his collection, in the library he founded in 1860. Gian Francesco Gamurrini can be thanked for the first real organization of the artefacts according to provenance, work which he undertook starting in the second half of the 19th century. After various events, Antonio Cappelli assumed a defining role in the museum transferring the it to a new location on Via Mazzini, also enlarging the collection and later inaugurating the Ecclesiastic Museum in the rooms above the Sacristy in the Cathedral (1933). After his death, the advent of the Second World War provoked the abandonment of the museum as it suffered serious damages and losses as a result of the War. In 1955 the museum was reopened, but the flood of 1966 reeked new havoc on the structure.
Finally, the new and present day museum building was inaugurated in Piazza Baccarini. Its current appearance is thanks to the restoration and expansion work undertaken in 1999.
The Museum is divided into 5 sections for a total of 40 luminous rooms, all providing an ideal environment ideal for the optimum preservation of the artefacts. In addition, the museum also boasts a didactic laboratory in which students can have hands-on experience and participate in simulations of actual restoration work in an archaeological setting. The first section, sala (room) 1 is entirely dedicated to Chelli’s antique collection: the collection is heterogeneous, including Etruscan urns decorated with mythological themes from the Hellenistic age, found in sites from Volterra to Chiusi. The true jewel of the room is undoubtedly the bucchero bowl decorated with an engraving of the Etruscan alphabet, dating to the 6th century BC. The second section is dedicated to the artefacts found in the principal archaeological site of the zone, Roselle (rooms 2-12). These spaces, displaying pieces in chronological order from the pre-historical epoch to the age of the Roman conquest and subsequent Romanization, play a central role in the overall scheme of the entire museum. The journey begins from the foundation of the city; in the middle of the room one can find a scale model that illustrates the structure of the plains of Grosseto and surrounding countryside from the beginning of the 6th century BC, including Lake Prile and its two bordering cities, Roselle and Vetulonia. The lake was the motivation for arguments and wars between various Etruscan cities as it was navigable and included abundant supplies of fish, remaining so until
the time of Siena’s conquest of the territory. However, in absence of canalization, the lake simply turned into marshland. The materials from this room come from the area of the forum and so-called “Casa con recinto” (House with enclosure) from the northern and southern hill. As it would be impossible to cite all of the elements of the museum structure, only the most significant pieces will be illustrated here, like the artefacts from the house with the impluvium, dating to the 6th century BC, in room 3 for example.
The house was surrounded by cultivated land, which included an impluvium, an element that was later widely diffused throughout the Roman age. These artefacts are very important in that they serve as testimony to the daily life of their ancient owners. The pieces include an attingitoi (an item very similar to a cup or bowl with a handle), dishes, kantoroi (vases), tiles, and ovens used for the preparation of food. Room 4 is dedicated to the funerary artefacts of several ancient necropolis. In this section one finds the tomb a pozzetto of a boy named Larth, which we know thanks to the inscription still visible on the surface of the stone: “I am the tomb of the young Larth”. Located in this room are also two funerary stele decorated with sculpted soldiers (one is original and the other is a cast). The objects from a Hellenistic house found on the northern hill are equally as fascinating (room 7). Here one can find loom and fishing net weights, a strigile used to clean the body, small projectiles and other various acorn-sized lead objects that were used in a catapult. Many objects dating from the Imperial Roman period can also be admired (rooms 9 -12), including amphora used for wine and oil and a lead tube (or fistula) with a stamp in relief. A small room houses a reconstruction of baths from the time of Hadrian, complete with a beautiful mosaic depicting a gym, now lost. A model of the forum once found in the Imperial age Roselle (1st-3rd centuries), surrounded by statues from the Basilica dei Bassi and from the Augusteo, is found in room 11. The rooms displaying artefacts dating from Late Antiquity (with a series of funerary objects from the 6th – 7th century) are last on the itinerary before concluding with medieval artefacts.
On the upper floor, the ample section 3 (rooms 13-23) is also organized in chronological order, presenting archaeological artefacts from the entire Province dating from Pre-historical times to Late Antiquity. The artefacts range from products of the Palaeolithic stone carving industry to the materials used in the Neolithic age to the Bronze age and through to the early Iron age (11th-10th centuries BC), and some of the most beautiful pieces include a bronze storage container found on Giglio Island in the 1950’s (in the area surrounding Campese) that held axes, spears, javelin spears, scalpels, serpentine broaches, pendants for horses, and bracelets.
Funerary artefacts from Vetulonia, such as capanna (hut shaped) and biconiche (biconic) urns, with either a helmet or bowl style lid, from the Villanovan age (8th century BC), in addition to numerous bronze objects of exquisite workmanship, are amongst the most remarkable of the many valuable objects found here.
The Orientalizing, or eastward moving period, (from the end of the 8th century to the beginning of the 6th BC) was a phase of great economic development and increment of trade among Mediterranean basin cultures. The period is characterized by the reoccurring findings of high-quality objects manufactured in the east in the tombs of the wealthier classes. The painted cratere, of very elevated quality, from Pescia Romana, probably created in the Euboean colony of Ischia (730 – 720 BC) is not to be missed. In room 14 the tomb of the Circolo delle Pellicce from Vetulonia can be found. The presence of a helmet and horse bit, (the deceased was an Aristocrat soldier), as well as an incense burner, broaches, and traces of an amber necklace – all goods that would have been purchased in the Baltic sea region – are elements to be taken into account when analyzing the tomb and its contents. The funerary items of the “Circolo delgi Avori” from Marsiliana d’Albegna are truly sumptuous: objects pertaining to both a masculine and feminine burial were found, including much admired ivory pettine (combs) decorated with sphinxes, a splendid pisside (a vase used to hold oil) with a beautiful lotus flower handle, a writing table, a silver funerary mask, pendants, bracelets and many other objects. In the same room a different display case is dedicated to the tombs in Vetulonia, including a helmet, an amber necklace, horse bits and a small statue in blue faience of Dio Bes, a midget god that Egyptians believed to have assisted with the birth of the Pharaoh’s son. In Etruria, the god was used to ensure the protection of newborn babies.
Room 16 is dedicated to the classical Etruria (the funerary items of the Pari-Casenovole tomb are located here), rooms 17-19 display artefacts from the phase of Romanization, when the Etruscan culture, despite persisting in several aspects (language, funerary tradition, writing), was slowly absorbed into that of the Romans. In room 18 we can find several epigraphs, the Tabula Hebana from Heba (near Magliano) and an inscribed travertine funerary stele from Saturnia. Room 20 is dedicated to the Imperial age and here one can find a bust of the Emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD).  The reconstruction of a third century wreckage of a Roman ship from Africa found in the waters off the coast of
the Giglio Island can also be observed. The ship at the time of wreckage had a full load, complete with amphora filled with garum, a fish sauce considered a delicacy in Rome. Nearby, a variety of other amphora can be found of diverse provenances. They serve as testimony to the regularity of the trade of goods via waterways. The last room in this section (room 23) is dedicated to the “collections”, which is, in other words, a group of artefacts whose provenance is uncertain, yet still maintain an elevated level of artistic and antiquarian value. The ten rooms of the fourth section (rooms 24-34), located on the second floor, constitute the Museum of Sacred Art from the Diocese (Museo d’Arte Sacra della Diocesi), an actual museum within the museum that joined the Archaeological Museum in 1975. Here one can admire, in chronological order, a series of panels depicting sacred subjects, sculpture and liturgical objects, from the medieval to the end of the 18th century. Many of the pieces are high quality, the best of which will be mentioned below.
The very beautiful Universal Judgement, executed in the second half of the 13th century, was taken from the Church of St. Leonard: the work was exquisitely crafted and has a certain Byzantine quality. The panel has been attributed to the mature phase of Guido of Siena (Bellosi). The iconography found within this common scene, in which St. Peter (located in the lower left quadrant of the panel) is in the act of opening the doors of Par-adise with his key followed by the salved souls, showcased in the composition is extremely rare. The well-known Madonna of the Cherries by Sassetta from the middle of the 15th century, originally displayed in the Cathedral, is also not to be missed. This painted panel is considered one of the Sassetta’s masterpieces, both for the effective illusion of perspective and solidity and for the intimacy of the subject matter: the Child, draped by only a light cloak, is depicted actually eating the cherries.
Saints Anthony Abbot and Jerome by Sano di Pietro (15th century), the Christ in Pietà by Pietro di Domenico (late 15th century), the Madonna by Girolamo di Benevento (early 16th century), the Madonna and Child, tempera on panel (late 14th century), and the Madonna and Child with Protector Saints of Grosseto with its splendid birds-eye view of the city by Ilario Casolani (1631) are all notable pieces found within the museum.
The sculptural fragments from the external parts of the Cathedral are also very fascinating. They were partially demolished during a 19th century restoration, but can be attributed to Agostino di Giovanni (14th century).
The visit to the museum is concluded in the fifth and final section (rooms 35-40) with the medieval archaeological artefacts found throughout theMaremma region and a summary of the history of Grosseto. Testimony can be found here to the both the existence of settlements in the actual city from Classical times and the city’s development through the Dark Ages. The documentation surrounding the early medieval existence of the city however is more conspicuous and makes up the bulk of the items found during the digs in the zones surrounding the Medici Fortress and the Cassero Senese. Pieces from the Renaissance can also be found, along with objects from even later dates, like the series of 18th century pharmaceutical vases.

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