Etruscan thorn in Villa Giulia. A large port in the Mediterranean

The events recommended by Borghi Etruschi
We are at the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia
Taking advantage of the excursion to Rome and the Veio natural park, it is then possible to conclude your short experience discovering the Etruscan-Roman heritage with a visit to this exhibition, open until 7 April 2024.
Tuesday – Sunday 08.30 – 19.30 (rooms close at 19.00) (last entry at 18.30)
Full ticket price €12.00 – reduced €2.00

Etruscan thorn in Villa Giulia. A large port in the Mediterranean

Etruria with its complex and refined culture and the discovery of Spina, a city that marked important economic, political and cultural relations with the peoples who converged in the Mediterranean, are at the center of a major exhibition at the National Etruscan Museum

An event that represents the third and final stage of the celebrations that began in Comacchio and then continued in Ferrara, on the occasion of the centenary of the discovery of Spina, one of the most important Etruscan cities on the Adriatic. Discovered on 3 April 1922 near Comacchio, Spina – between the 5th and 4th centuries BC. C. – was one of the major commercial ports in the Mediterranean, representing the link between West and East. Thanks to the start of the reclamation works in Valle Trebba and then to the excavations of Valle Pega , in the space of a few decades after having been submerged for centuries, Spina finally returned to light with over four thousand mostly intact tombs, thus restoring one of the most important nuclei of Attic imported ceramics in the world.

An important city cited by illustrious ancient writers such as Strabo, Pliny the Elder and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who in their texts described the great maritime power represented by Spina, its commercial prosperity and its close link with Greek culture ; a profound connection, demonstrated by the over seven hundred works on display, coming from Italian and foreign institutions, which dialogue with the museum’s permanent collections and accompany the visitor on a unique journey in which history, myth and archeology intertwine. From Spina to Pyrgi , from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian Sea, the journey traces the origins of the Etruscans, describing their commercial, cultural and social relations, retracing the exceptional scientific contribution that the excavations of the city of Spina have given to the knowledge of the history of the Mediterranean .

The exhibition itinerary is introduced by a series of thematic insights which, through a careful selection of finds, offers the visitor a broad vision of the historical horizons that connected Caere/Agylla, today’s Cerveteri, with Pyrgi and Spina. A temporal connection that refers to the travels of Ulysses and the exploits of Heracles in the West, through an unprecedented juxtaposition between the imposing crater of tomb 579 of Valle Trebba and the contemporary high relief of Pyrgi (both representing the myth of the Seven against Thebes, a powerful warning against the incivilities and barbarism of fratricidal wars).

Furthermore, an evocative system of video projections involves the viewer in an immersive crescendo that recreates the original context in which the Pyrgi High Relief was inserted, thus revealing all its complex symbolic and historical meaning.
The stages of the exhibition branch out through seven sections, which make up a true initiatory journey that begins with the room dedicated to the discovery of Spina, documented in the excavation journals by the assistant Giovanni Proni through an emotional photograph that captures the moment with profound sensitivity of the discovery, and then continues with the reconstruction of the environmental context in which the city flourished and developed.

A difficult landscape, that of the Po Delta masterfully dominated by the Etruscans who ideally encounter the myth of Daedalus in the depictions of the bucchero vase dated 630-620 BC, which depicts the famous inventor who for the Greeks represents the one who dominates a difficult environment and inhospitable, metaphorically alluding to the hydraulic mastery of the Etruscans in reclaiming such a treacherous environment.

We then find the rooms dedicated to trade and the relationships of force between the various peoples of the Mediterranean, evoked by the selection of transport amphorae, from the Attic black-figure Dinos created by Exekias at the time of the battle of Alalìa , or from the Etruscan Hydria to black figures dedicated to the myth of the metamorphosis of the Tyrrhenian pirates transformed into dolphins by Dionysus. This celebrates the close, often competitive, bond between the Greeks and the Etruscans , which saw the latter excel in control of the seas surrounding the Italian peninsula and trade their wine throughout the Mediterranean.
An important selection from the over 4000 funerary objects returned from the necropolises describes the strong Hellenic ritual value that also reflects the city of Spina within the spaces dedicated to memory. A careful collection of objects reconstructs the burial methods and funeral rituals through which the city celebrated its ancestors. The evocative sphere is contrasted with agricultural and wildlife resources, with productive and artisanal activities right up to the heart of the city, ideally penetrating the daily intimacy of domestic rituals. A votive terracotta depicting Aeneas and Anchises fleeing from Troy ideally closes the journey, celebrating the first object returned from the sands of Spina in 1668. Like a temporal ouroboros , the history of Spina thus returns to its beginning and completes a cycle which, through he echo of history and archaeology, reveals itself to be continuously evolving and therefore always alive.

Article BY Nadja Gardini PHOTOS AND TEXTS BY ARTRIBUNE.COM 03.01.2024