The history of the ‘Orto Lapidario’ and of the ‘Museo d’Antichità’, currently known as the ‘Civico Museo di Storia ed Arte’, started in 1833 with the inauguration of the monument to Winckelmann, the renowned German historian and antiquarian who was tragically murdered in Trieste in 1768. The monument became the starting point of the future museum, which was created with the express purpose to cultivate and promote the local study of archaeology and art. Indeed Trieste, thanks to its geographical position and its maritime trade, was able to attract items from the classical lands, from Egypt, and from places as far as Mesoamerica. The aim of acquiring such artefacts was to provoke in the locals a love of beauty, to attract foreign experts as well as to educate local artists and craftsmen.
The ‘Orto Lapidario’ houses ancient Roman exhibits from Aquileia, the Istria peninsula and Tergeste. These form a vast array of ancient sepulchral, honorary and sacred epigraphy from between the 1st and 5th centuries AD.
In the little temple lies the monument to Winckelmann, a neoclassical work by sculptor Antonio Bosa, which is surrounded by Greek and Roman classical sculptures. These exhibits represent the oldest core of the city’s collections, which at the end of the 18th century belonged to the ‘Accademia degli Arcadi Sonziaci’.
The garden opposite the museum building, surrounded by a wall with towers, and dating back to the 1400s and 1500s, houses mediaeval and modern items from the city.
In the Museum one can retrace the pre-history of the Karst plateau around Trieste from 80,000 years ago through items found in the caves and similar shelters found in the rocks.
Pottery, arms and personal ornaments from the Bronze and Iron Ages come from settlements called ‘castellieri’, and their respective necropoles, one of which – the one from Santa Lucia di Tolmino – stands out with its more than 7,000 tombs complete with grave goods.
There is a vast Roman collection from Aquileia, enriched by additional items found either locally or around the Mediterranean basin. These include sculptures and objects of daily use, imperial and private portraits, statuettes and bronze deities and a rich series of bronze, ceramic, glass, amber and bone artefacts, deriving mainly from dwellings and graves.
The Greek section displays a vast repertoire of Attic and Magna Graecia pottery, providing an historical overview that ranges from the Archaic to the whole of the Hellenistic periods. These items are noteworthy in terms of quantity, size, beauty and originality. The finds from the Taranto excavation site are especially interesting: reliefs and terracotta figures, antefixes and vases. And the impressive embossed silver rhyton: a ritual vase in the shape of a fawn’s head made in around 400 BC – this is the museum’s pièce de résistance.
Finally, a smaller room houses the “Collezione Fabietti” from El Salvador. This includes vases, instruments, and anthropomorphic and zoomorphic terracotta figurines, illustrating the traditions of a farming community which lived in contact with the great Mayan culture between 600 and 1,000 AD.
Comune di Trieste
Video by TCD
With the contribution of Friuli Venezia Giulia