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Museo Civico


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This collection is currently housed in three rooms on the ground floor of Palazzo Claudio Faina.

Entrance Room

Finds from the Cannicella Necropolis

The following are from the site of the Cannicella Necropolis.

Inscription (ca. 550 BC)


This inscription “thval veal” reveals that the temple associated with the necropolis was dedicated to Vei (Demeter).   It is discussed in context in the page Early Etruscan Inscriptions

“Venus” of Cannicella (ca. 550 BC)

The most important find from the site was the so-called “Venus” of Cannicella, which Riccardo Mancini discovered (along with the temple itself) in 1884.  In fact, this naked marble figure (ca. 530 BC) probably represents Vei.  The portrayal of a naked female such as this is extremely unusual in this period: she seems originally to have worn gold necklaces and earrings.  Excavations carried out in 1990 unearthed part of the figure's right arm, which was subsequently re-attached.






Funerary cippus (late 6th century BC)

This cippus from the necropolis, of which only the upper part survives, depicts the deceased as a warrior who wears a helmet and carries a spear and a shield.  The inscription, which reads "mi ave"  (I am Ave), is discussed in context in the page Early Etruscan Inscriptions.





Terracotta Decoration

  
 

The following exhibits also came from the site of the temple:

  1. the lovely terracotta head of a woman;

  2. a series of terracotta antefixes representing one or more goddesses; and

  3. a terracotta antefix representing a gorgon.

Antefix from the Campo della Fiera (4th century BC) 

This antefix came from the excavations at Campo della Fiera in the 1990s.  It is identical to another discovered on the site in 1876, which is now in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin






Finds from Palazzo Buzi (5th century BC)

    

The following terracotta objects were found at Palazzo Buzi [when??]: 

  1. a fragment of a painted terracotta relief of a snaked man; and 

  2. the head of a satyr.

Room on the Right

Finds from the Tempio del Belvedere

A number of objects were found during the construction of the nearby Pozzo di San Patrizio in 1527-32 pointed to an important Etruscan cult site.  The remains of the temple itself (now known as the the Tempio del Belvedere) were discovered during roadworks in 1828.  Excavations on the site in 1923 unearthed the floor plan and a number of decorative elements of exceptional quality.  Their dating on stylistic grounds pointed to the rebuilding or extensive redecoration of the temple in the late 5th or early 4th century BC.  The following are in the Museo Civico:

Nortia/Athena (ca. 450 BC)

This bronze votive offering  from the so-called Tempio del Belvedere represents Nortia/ Athena wearing the aegis given to her by Zeus and holding a spear.  The aegis which is represented as a cloak (as here) or a shield was fringed by snakes and embellished with the head of a Gorgon.

Virgil (Aeneid 8.435–8) described the aegis in a scene set in the workshop of Vulcan (Hephaestus):

“a chilling aegis, the breastplate of  Pallas [Athena],

[the Cyclopes] competing to burnish its serpent scales of gold,

its interwoven snakes, and the Gorgon herself

on the goddess’s breast, with severed neck and rolling eyes”.

Although Virgil imagined the aegis as a breastplate, its representation as a cloak (as here) is more usual.  The Gorgon that Virgil describes “on the goddess’s breast” is clear visible on the  bronze figure discussed here.

Bronze Votive Offerings (ca. 450 BC)

This lovely bronze depicts a women dancing while playing castanets.







 

Terracotta Antefixes (ca. 400 BC)

      
      

The most impressive of these include:

  1. a head of an old man;

  2. a figure in high relief of a nude man in a cloak; and

  3. a head of a gorgon.


A number of other lovely antefixes are displayed in a separate case.

Room on the Left

Finds from Necropolis of Crocifisso del Tufo

The following came from the necropolis of Crocifisso del Tufo:

Warrior head (ca. 550 BC)

This cippus came from the so-called tomb of the warrior (tomb K279), which Riccardo Mancini  discovered in the necropolis of Crocifisso del Tufo in 1880.  The tomb, which had two chambers, was under land that belonged to Mancini, and was subsequently buried when the land was returned to agricultural use.

The cippus, which is in the form of the head of a warrior, was discovered above the tomb.  According to the inscription on the right of the helmet, it marked the grave of Larth Cuperes, son of Aranth.  This name is unlike others found in Orvieto, and it is thought  that Larth might have been a foreign mercenary who settled in the city.

The inscription is discussed in context in the page Early Etruscan Inscriptions

Funerary Cippus (6th century BC)

This fragment, which is the lower part of a funerary cippus, has reliefs on two sides of a the deceased wearing armour.







Finds from Outside Orvieto

Sarcophagus from Torre San Severo  (ca. 350 BC)


This sarcophagus, which was discovered in 1912 at Torre San Severo, south of Porano, probably belonged to a family from the rural aristocracy.  It is covered with originally polychromed reliefs depicting stories from Greek legend:

  1. Those on the long sides illustrate scenes from the Illiad: 

  2. Achilles sacrificing Trojans on the tomb of Patroclus; and

  3. Neoptolemus sacrificing Polyxena at the tomb of Achilles.

  4. Those on the short sides illustrate scenes from the Odyssey:

  5. Ulysses sacrificing a goat at the gates of Hades as he prepares to visit the seer Tiresia (illustrated); and 

  6. Ulysses and Circe.

Sarcophagus from Pietra Campana (ca. 300 BC)


This sarcophagus was apparently one of three that were discovered in 1896 in a chamber tomb at Pietra Campana, a location between Porano and Orvieto.  The deceased is depicted reclining on the lid.  The reliefs on the sides are mostly decorative, with two demons (a male on the left and a female on the right) to the sides. 

Statutes of Orvieto

  

                                           Statute of 1209                                                              Amendment of 1220

This inscription, which is inscribed on a slab that has an earlier relief on the back, defines:

  1. the taxes due to the Commune in times of need, which varied according to the wealth of each citizen; and

  2. the compensation to be paid for privately-owned horses that were requisitioned in times of war.

The shorter inscription contains slight amendments made in 1220.


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