Rio nell'Elba Archaeological Museum

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At the Archaeological Museum of Rio nell'Elba, the exhibition in collaboration with the National Archaeological Museum of Naples

22 July to 1 November 2023

Edited by: Marco Firmati, direttore del Museo Archeologico del Distretto Minerario

Last year the Museo Archeologico del Distretto Minerario reopened with a significant exhibition dedicated to the Etruscans (Il ferro e l'oro, Rotte mediterranee tra Etruria e Oriente) displaying precious orientalising materials on loan from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence;

Confirming its regular seasonal appointment, the Municipality now presents a new major archaeological exhibition, this time dedicated to illustrating one of the most attractive themes in the public life of the Roman people, which even today - fuelled by a successful filmography - continues to attract keen public interest: the art of gladiation;

In the wake of the internationally renowned exhibition Gladiators, recently organised by the Archaeological Museum of Naples, we draw on the conspicuous amount of archaeological material relating to gladiatorial activity - splendidly preserved in the museum itself - to focus on certain aspects of gladiatorial life. In the Roman world they enjoyed extraordinary fame and became - along with the other circus games - an effective instrument of political consensus and support for imperial power;

Thanks to the generous collaboration of the National Archaeological Museum of Naples and the coordination of the Tuscan Archipelago Museum System, the museum's gaze turns in summer 2023 to the Roman world, which is also treated in the permanent exhibition. The exhibition Gladiators focuses on a social and political phenomenon of great importance in the history of the ancient world, in terms of its duration, diffusion and popular involvement;

The first documented evidence of gladiatorial games in Rome in 264 BC most likely descends from the original fights traditionally staged in funeral ceremonies in other regions (Etruria and Campania), such as human sacrifices to appease the spirit of the deceased. With a rapid and unstoppable rise - slowed only temporarily by reasons of public safety following the revolt of the gladiator Spartacus (73-71 BC) - the gladiatorial games found in the Colosseum an imposing and long-lasting dedicated building, which was inaugurated by the emperor Titus in 80 AD with a grandiose series of spectacles lasting no less than 100 days. The spectacles became an effective and costly tool for magistrates and emperors to cultivate and increase their political fortunes. In 107 A.D. the emperor Trajan, to celebrate his victory over the Dacians went so far as to have as many as 10000 gladiators fight;

The valuable archaeological artefacts relating to the art of gladiation in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples become an effective and enjoyable means of presenting to the public a typically Roman social and political phenomenon, which from the Republican age onwards increasingly marked the life and history of the Roman empire. We all remember, in the words of Juvenal, that 'The Roman people [...] desire only two things: bread and games';

Saturday 22 July, 6.30 p.m.
Archaeological Museum of the Mining District
Rio nell’Elba, via Mazzini 2 / Via delle Cantine 10 A

Museum opening hours:
10.00 - 12.30 / 18.00 - 22.30 (Mondays closed)

Info and contacts:
Tel.: +39 0565 939227

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