Housed in the Palazzo della Crocetta the Archaeological Museum is a landmark in any understanding of Etruscan civilization and art. There is also a section devoted to Ancient Egypt, the second most important in Italy following the Museo Egizio in Turin.
The Museo Archeologico developed out of the Etruscan collections of the houses of Medici and Lorraine, originally held in the Uffizi; while the ancient Egyptian section was established in the first half of thee 19th c. by Leopoldo II trough the acquisition of existing collections and through “field expeditions”.
All of the collections were moved to the present location in 1880.A visit to the Museum starts with the section dedicated to Egyptian arts. The finds of the Palaeolithic Age: the prehistoric Egypt that had to have started two million years ago.
To this period belong the numerous utensils and instruments on display. Objects of diverse dating and origins narrate the long history of the Egyptian people and culture: domestic utensils, beauty instruments (rooms I-V).
Room XI holds various instruments relative to the ritual of Mummification, the so-called Canopic Vessels: containers for the vital organs of the deceased and essential for the funeral trousseau. Following are the artefacts relative to the Protodynastic Age: Ancient, Middle, and New Reigns, until the age of Copta (310 a. D.).
Among the cult objects of this polytheist civilization, the Museum exhibits some fragments of papyrus, the chapters of the Book of the Dead: a story of the formula and ritual for the survival of the deceased in the afterlife (room VI), an exceptional facet of this great people.
The second section of the Museum is dedicated to Etruscan art: funerary sculpture and urns in terracotta (III-IV b. C.). The Mater Matuta is the most important find in room IX: a funerary urn in the figure of a woman with a baby in her arms, symbolic of fertility and motherhood.
The artefacts were found in Chiusi, Chianciano, and Volterra and date between the Fourth and Seventh Century b. C. The Etruscan section holds a bronze collection rich with devotional objects, domestic utensils, and small bronzes of animals and human figures in the act of making offerings (room XIV).
Finally, there is a series of ancient bronze arms for attack (daggers, helmets, knifes and lances) and shields for defence, providing protection for the heart (VII b. C.). The third section is dedicated to the Attica Ceramics: funerary amphorae, geometric cups and vases from the VIII Century b. C.
One can see the particular vases, painted with the black-figure technique asserted to be from the VI Century b. C. (room I): life scenes and those of abduction, mythological images, athletic competitions and races between carts and horses decorate the production of the famous Attic painter Lydòs (560 b. C.).
Between 550 and 530 b. C. the attention of the Attic ceramicists dwelt on few personages and dramatic scenes: the refinement culminates with the narration of the deeds of courageous heroes. The famous Hidrìa, a vase for drawing water covered with scenes of women at the fountains, makes the exposition cases of Room II even more invaluable.
A fourth section holds numerous Roman bronzes: portraits, helmets, statues, and masks of noble and valorous heroes. Very important are the two Elogia Arretina, dedicated to Quinto Fabio Massimo and Appio Claudio Cieco: two marble tablets that illustrate the name, career, and the military and political enterprise of the two.
A visit to the Archaeological Museum is a trip, a leap through the times of peoples now gone and cultures extinct, but deeply imprinted in the memory of man. Particular information is available to the visitor in each room.
For any information:
Via della Colonna 38 (055 235750).
Open Mon 2-7pm, Tue/Thu 8.30am-7pm, Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun 8.30am-2pm.
Admission: 4 euro