Venafro Archaeological Museum

Museo archeologico di Venafro - Cortile

Museo archeologico di Venafro

Via Garibaldi, 8
Venafro (IS)

Tel. e Fax:
0865 900742

Orario di apertura:

Giorni feriali:
Domenica e festivi:
Pomeriggio: 14:30-19:30
Chiuso il lunedì

The Archaeological Museum of Venafro is housed in the 17th century convent of S. Chiara, where a small museum was founded in 1931 to accommodate a series of archaeological finds made in 1919 in the locality of Terme di S. Aniello. From its origins with this early collection, in recent decades the museum has greatly expanded, thanks to the results of surveys and excavations carried out in both the town and the surrounding areas.

 The museum visit: Alla scoperta dell'antica città

The cloister

The materials displayed in the two porticoes flanking the convent garden relate to the use of land: inscriptions and sculptures from the cemeteries of imperial date, a milestone relating to the 2nd century B.C. road network outside the town and finds from the excavation of a rural villa that produced wine and olive oil.

The ground floor

The display in the first room presents one of the most significant public works in the territory of Venafro in antiquity: the aqueduct built under Augustus which brought water to the city from the source of the Volturno. Thus, a journey begins through the Roman town of Venafrum illustrating its most notable public monuments: the amphitheatre (Room 2), incorporated in such a distinctive manner within an oval formed by of 17th century rural structures, and the Roman theatre complex. The display includes most of the architectural decorations from the theatre (room 2), and many of the sculptures belonging to this richly ornamented structure (room 4).

The first floortorna su

The staircase leads to rooms on the first floor where the visit continues with finds from the excavations in the town itself: a series of “III style” frescoes (rooms 5 and 6), mosaic and polychrome marble floors, architectural terracottas, a rich deposit of wine amphorae and examples of pottery and glass vessels, finds that reflect daily life in the imperial period (room 7). The statues displayed in Room 10 come from various buildings of the ancient town, and include the famous Venus Venafrana. The Del Prete collection, a private donation to the museum, is a rich source of interesting information about the territory and includes inscriptions, sculptures and reliefs from funerary monuments (Rooms 8 and 9). The presentation of the pre-imperial history of Venafrum begins in Room 12. Pieces in this collection of materials from within the town include the clay head of a Gorgon, an interesting example of Italic art, and a female marble head (c. 100 B.C.) which was most probably part of a cult statue (all in Room 12). Finds from a large 3rd century B.C. potters’ quarter, a Hellenistic sanctuary at Monte S. Paolo close to Colli a Volturno and grave goods from 4th-5th century B.C. burials found in the area of the abbey of S. Vincenzo al Volturno (Room 13) are also displayed. A selection of grave goods from the important necropolis of Camerelle (Pozzilli) can be seen in Rooms 14 to 17. This cemetery served an as yet unidentified settlement, and was in use from the beginning of the 4th century to the end of the 5th B.C.

1007_small Ancient Aquilonia?: the settlement on Monte S.Paolo a Colli a Volturno

Monte S. Paolo is the easternmost peak of a small mountain range located to the right of the river Volturno. A hill fort has been identified on the summit, with a perimeter of over 6 km enclosing an area of about 200 hectares. The fortification wall itself is made of polygonal limestone blocks of varying sizes and has two gates (south and north). A Hellenistic sanctuary, on the slopes of the adjacent Monte La Falconara, is in the process of being excavated. Monte S. Paolo belongs to a system of hill forts (Monte Castellano, La Montagnola, Monte Santa Croce, Monte della Foresta, La Romana and Castel Canonico), dominating the routes penetrating into Samnium from the west and which from Latium provided access to the Volturno and Sangro valleys. This settlement can probably be identified as ancient Aquilonia, site of the battle between the Romans and the Samnites 293 B.C.

Women adorned with bronze: the Samnite tombs of S. Vincenzo al Volturno

A small group of graves, cut into the travertine rock and dating from the late 6th to the 5th century B.C., were found on the right bank of the Volturno, near the abbey. The grave goods associated with these burials are particularly rich (they include impasto pottery jars, small amphorae, cups and bowls, but only a very few examples of imported pottery and bucchero. Ornamental iron, bronze and amber artefacts were also present, but weapons were absent. Worthy of note a female burial, characterised by the presence of personal ornaments made of bronze such as the chatelaine and numerous bracelets. These artefacts are similar to contemporary material found at the necropolis at Alfedena (AQ) and at Pozzilli (IS). It is likely that the entire area was used for burials until the 4th century B.C. as is indicated by the finds of graves, possibly “ a cappuccina” type tombs, in the area in front of the medieval portico.

Contact with the Etruscans in Campania: the necropolis of Pozzilli

The necropolis of Pozzilli, in the locality of Camerelle, was partially excavated during the course of two separate campaigns in the 1970’s and 1990’s; the burials were in graves covered with stones. The area remained in use from the beginning of the 6th century B.C. until the late 5th-early 4th century B.C. A limited group of burials, among the earliest at the site, contained a larger number of pottery vessels, providing evidence of the funerary rites (libations in honour of the deceased). In fact, a pouring vessel and a drinking vessel (often a bucchero oinochoe and a kantharos) were placed inside a large storage jar (for dry foodstuffs), probably intended as a reference to the wealth of the family in question and ownership and exploitation of land. Very few personal ornaments were found, with the exception fibulae or brooches, usually of iron, and weapons (mostly spear heads). A distinctive feature for a 6th century B.C. context is the presence of black bucchero ware (probably from Capua) and impasto pottery with a red surface (commonly known as red bucchero and produced in Cales). This attests the existence of a commercial relationship with Northern Campania.