Roman Theatre and State Archaeological Museum

The State Archaeological Museum has been hosted since 1985 in the former monastery of Sant’Agata, that was built at t he end of the XIVth century in the area of the Roman Theatre. After 1395, the monastery used to host a Benedictine monastic community, a member of which inherited the Corvis’ old dwellings, that were connected to the next parish church of S. Agata, that had been built during the Early Middle Ages partially over the Roman Theatre’s scene. The museum has been recently reorganized.

The first floor is dedicated to Spoleto’s archaeological evidences: finds coming from the city and its outskirts are on display and tell the story of the city’s development, from its origin in the mid-Bronze Age (1500 BC ca), to the pre-Roman period, when it became an important Umbrian settlement, testified to by rich VIIth-VIth cen. BC funerary outfits, to the arrival of the Romans and the foundation of the Latin colony in 241 BC and the establishment of the municipium in 90 BC. Among the former there are blocks in limestone (cippi) that were placed at the edge of a sacred wood in honour of Jupiter; they bear a long inscription in archaic Latin, the so-called Lex Spoletina; it dictated the regulations on wood cutting, that was only allowed on the day of the sacrifice to the deity. A part is dedicated to archaeological excavations performed on Colle Sant’Elia, where the Rocca Albornoziana stands. A series of small VIth-Vth-cen. bronze statues is among the most interesting finds; they represent the oldest traces of a place for the cult in the area, where during the Roman period, a temple had been built, testified to by IIIrd/IInd-cen BC architectural terrecottae, and by terracotta votive offerings that portray parts of the human body and animals, usually reproduced to ask for the healing of the portrayed subjects: such objects were the expression of the Roman settlers’ typical religious practices.

The second floor of the museum features finds coming from the Valnerina, an area that, though subject to the Sabines, nonetheless has always had strong cultural ties with Spoleto.

The necropolis of Monteleone di Spoleto gave us cinerary urns dating to the end of the Bronze Age (XIth cen. BC) and iron weapons (swords and spears) that let us know their owners were warriors; they were found inside princely graves dating to the XIth cen. BC. The famous chariot on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum also came from that necropolis, while that of Santa Scolastica disclosed funerary outfits dating to the Hellenistic period (IIIrd-Ist sec. BC), with a number of black-painted vases, imitations of those in bronze and silver.

The remainder of the museum’s exhibits come from the Canzio Sapori Collection. Sapori (1918-2002) was a Spoletan doctor, an archaeology and palaeonthology enthusiast who acquired a number of finds on the antiques’ market and from occasional finders.

At the museum’s ground floor there is the section dedicated to the Roman Theatre, that introduces the visitor to the actual monument’s remains, that were brought back to light by Spoletan archaeologist Giuseppe Sordini between the XIXth and the XXth centuries.

The theatre, built at the end of the Ist century BC, lies on a wide artificial platform, delimited by a half-round ambulatory, from which you can access the cavea, on whose steps the audience used to sit.

The orchestra is also still maintained, i.e. the central space destined for VIPs, and the stage, both embellished by polychrome marble coating, while the stage area behind, along with the backgrounds for the shows, was dramatically altered in the Middle Ages, when the nuns of the nearby monastery invaded its space to build the church of Sant’Agata.

Address: Via di Sant’Agata 18\A

Ph: 0743 223277

For opening times and fees, please visit Spoleto Card

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