INTRODUZIONE

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ARCHEOLOGY IN TURIN

The exhibition started on May 31, 2013, has opened the third section of the Museum of Antiquities in Turin dedicated to the long history of the city. The transfer of the Savoy Gallery in a new area of the Royal Palace and the creation of a single entrance door for both two museums have provided an opportunity to the Superintendence for Archeological Heritage of Piedmont and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to layout the building basement, directly overlooking the Roman theatre. Here were placed the archaeological materials of Turin, which was waiting for decades to be returned to the public, together with new data, result of recent excavation and never exhibited before. The visit is introduced by two rooms exemplifying the origins of Savoy collection and the subsequent establishment of the Royal Museum of Antiquities, whose oldest part is mainly composed by the epigraphic material and sculptures from Roman period collected by scholars of the 16th century, enhanced by the antique dealers of the following centuries and merged in the Royal collection. The exhibition aims to restore a voice to distinguished personalities who lived in Turin over the centuries, entrusting them with the story of some historical events, through the reading of original writings and inscriptions. So along the way “appear” Cotius, grandson of the king of the alpines, who formed an alliance with Augustus; Gavius Silvano, illustrious man from Turin, involved in the conspiracy against Nerone, but since he was not discovered, he was commissioned to deliver a death sentence to Seneca and finally killed himself; and then Tetienus Vitalis, a merchant from Aquileia, who worked along the trade routes between the Po Valley and the Danube regions. Maximus, the first bishop of Turin, plays some vibrant verses of homilies written between the late 4th century and the first decades of the next, when there were difficulties in Christianization of the city, between enduring paganism, and barbarian invasions and finally, Emanuele Filiberto Pingone, historic of the House of Savoy and antique dealer that says a story of the town’s history: the escape of the duke in front of the French, who in 1536 took over the city. It is the direct testimony of a time of severe insecurity, which pushes an unknown character to hide two pots full of silver coins and mixture ones in the cellars of Palazzo Vecchio in Saint John. The precious “treasure”, found in the excavation of 1996, is now on display at the side of the guide narrator. Audio-visual materials and interactive subsidies also allow a deeper understanding of objects and to retrieve the context of discovery, the processes of analysis, restoration and study until their historical interpretation. Another important medium of connection, not only between forms of representation distant in time, but also among the exhibits on display and the sites of origin, is the archaeological map of the city, a large “table” with the orthophotos of Turin on which appears in a sequence the urban evolution, highlighting places and buildings for every age and the areas excavated. In addition to numerous stone artifacts, archaeological materials presented above includes outstanding examples of bronze sculptures, an exceptional core of cloaks fusion for large statues made in the workshops of the town active for over two centuries, mosaics, objects of daily life and funerary objects from the Roman period. Some set designs are devoted to the reconstruction of an hypogeum tomb with sarcophagi of lead, to the huge accumulations of artifacts collected in landfills leaning against the walls in the Imperial Age, and a ritual space prepared in connection with the construction and inauguration of the walls. The High Middle Ages was represented by the prestigious jewelry of a female Lombard tomb from the Lingotto area and Goths and Lombards kits of new sites of Collegno and Testona, marking a turning point of international importance, regarding the studies on populations of the age of the barbarian migrations. Of great impact and interest is the exposure of the vast early medieval repertoire of the liturgical furnishings in marble, sculpted in plots and plant motifs, produced for the three churches of the first episcopal complex in Turin, located beneath the current Duomo (cathedral) of the Renaissance: the large group is presented for the first time almost entirely after the recovery of the missing pieces as a result of the reconstruction of the cathedral, some emerged at different times in occasional excavations, and others uncovered during recent archaeological investigations. The city life of centuries from late Middle Ages to the 18th century is represented by pottery collected in interventions of urban archeology, and closes the exhibition, marking an ideal limit with the Modern Age, the utility of coins found in the cellars of the Palace of Saint John. The central corridor, that runs through the exhibition space, welcomes, finally, the stone materials come to light in the demolition of the ramparts of the fort of Savoy and, in particular, the inscriptions that, recovered by breaking down the rampart of the Consolata in 1722, became the nucleus of the Royal Museum of Antiquities.