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The Treasure Of the Lake. Torlonia collection and the new archaeological fulcrum in the Marsica  
Cristina Del Ferraro
ISSN 1127-4883     BTA - Telematic Bulletin of Art, August 23th 2001, n. 278

From April 22 2001 is shown in Avezzano at the Villa Torlonia the whole Torlonias collection, an interesting patrimony of archaeological finds that the noble family acquired following the drainage of the lake Fucino. It is the first time that the collection is exposed in its totality, and for the occasion it has been planned in the spaces of the ancient barn of the villa an exhibition: The Treasure of the Lake, which also gathers others important archaeological materials deriving from the surrounding areas and already acquired by the local museums. The collection Torlonia, private ownership up to 1994, was subsequently acquired by the Italian Government and set under the guardianship of the Archaeological Superintendence of Abruzzo. Among the many important pieces, we can find the two famous bas-relief plates with scenes of city and views of the lake, dated to the II century A.D.

The reliefs were discovered during the last jobs of drainage, that had lasted since 1826 to 1878; they testify the hydraulic enterprises from Caesar up to Traiano, that followed in the lake with the purpose to reclaim it. They show the representation of a city and its inhabitants, intents to pick up the water from the wells. The collection also includes numerous coins, datable from the IV to the II century B.C., among which several exemplary of litra, deriving from Campanias mints and a consistent group of weapons both ancient and from Renaissance period. The prehistoric defensive tools are truly different, and we can find a dagger in flint of the III millennium B.C., passing through the age of the bronze, up to reach two splendid helmets of the VI and V century B.C.. Together with swords, fibulas and bronze bracelets they develop an interesting section, even if variegated for period and typology.

The Torlonias collection represents the central focus of the exhibition, that appear besides full of suggestive finds sprung by the surrounding archaeological sites.

Are visible the stunning decorations in bone which decorate the superb funeral beds of Collelongo and Aielli, datable among the II sec. B.C. and the The I century A.D., whose thin plates are shaped in form of eroti, snakes, symbols of Love and Psyche, protomi leonine and mythological figures among which the God Somnus, the ambiguous brother of Tanatos (god of the Death): a certain viaticum toward the underground world. The recent discovery, dated back to last year, of a similar funeral bed bone -decorated in the necropolis of Fossa, it supports the conviction that in these regions, still so little explored by the archaeological point of view, are hidden some very notable treasures. In the ancient places of cult of the Marsi, they have been found since 1992 to today myriad of finds that testify the shine of these civilizations so near to Rome; soon swept away by the map of the power, ready to be subdued from the new capital. Yet, visiting the exhibition we can recognize the city - sanctuary devoted to the goddess Angizia, a divinity assimilable to Medea, the powerful sorceress to whom the devotees offered coins, votive statuettes and objects shaped in anatomical parts. The ancient cities of Alba Fucens and Marruvium, once prosperous commercial and cultural centers, have left us mosaics, fragments of fresco, sculptures and bronzes since the Latin domination of the IV sec. B.C., under which Alba Fucens was a flourishing colony in the Equi territory, up to the period of the domination in Rome, when Marruvium turned from capital of the Marsis into a Roman municipium.

The presentation of these treasures that the lake has hidden for millennia it is a decisive event, also in sight of the following location of the Torlonias collection. The exhibition will end the October 31 and subsequently the acquisition will be available in permanent way in the new section of the Museum of Sacred Art of Celano, which is waiting to welcome the Torlonia collection in a wing of Piccolomini Castle. Close to the present collected works (constituted by masterpieces of sacred art, originally shown in the National Museum of L'Aquila and in the Museum of Palazzo Venezia in Rome), it will be possible to see therefore the archaeological finds of the collection, finally open to the public. The museum pole that is raising around the center of the Marsica will be enriched by the presence, in the Museum of Prehistory of the Abruzzo of Celano, of the XXVI Reunion Scientific of the Italian institute of Prehistory and Protohistory. The conference includes several days of study that concern on the Prehistory and Protohistory in Abruzzo. It will be opened September the 27 in Chieti; days from 28 to 30, instead, will involve the Museum of Prehistory of Celano with interventions dedicated to the age of the copper and the bronze, to the Eneolithic period and to the age of the iron. The seminar will have been placed close to a visitable exhibition since September 27 in the Museum of Prehistory. The title is The Abruzzo between the age of the copper and the age of the iron and that will be prolonged for a long period.

It is really worth to visit this structure, planned by the architect Ettore De Lellis and born by the wish of Giovanni Scichilone and the actual director Vincenzo d'Ercole, conceived as one of the near tumulus graves dated back to the bronze age. They have been discovered after the excavations that lasted since 1985 to 1989. In the Museum of Prehistory are gathered the testimonies from the archaeological analyses of Ripoli, Trasacco, Collelongo and Fossa, near L'Aquila; these last excavations began in 1992 but in last September the jobs has been interrupted because of the lack of funds (the usual problem…). Fossa, that has been defined the Stonehenge of Abruzzo, has given to us 550 tumulus graves that depart from the X to the I century B.C., menhirs and rich funeral outfits. An exceptional patrimony, that deserves to be valorized and studied in the best way. Just considering this opportunity, it is trying to create in the Museum a laboratory of research that can accomplish to the formation of anthropologists, archaeologists, restorers and researchers interested on prehistoric and protohistoric period. The hope is that these positive energies not fall in with the usual financial problems that distress the greatest part of the smaller museums or, as in this case, museums that are quite far from the cultural tourism cities. Fortunately, after so many appeals from the Superintendence of Abruzzo and the relative officials, two positive data are verifiable: the Museum of Prehistory of Celano has engaged a new staff the collection Torlonia has got its definitive exposure in the Museum of the Piccolomini Castle. Perhaps the ancient warlike spirit of the Marsi, famous "stubborn people" has benefited ...

Mostra Il tesoro del lago - Il Fucino e la collezione Torlonia
Villa Torlonia - Avezzano
Info: tel. 0863/502211

Museum of the Prehistory
Celano (L'Aquila) loc. Paludi
Tel. 0863/790357



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