Aquileia felix among gems and jewels

“Remember!” ( MNHMONEYE ), we read on a cameo exhibited in the “Luxury and wealth” section just inaugurated at the National Archaeological Museum (MAN) in Aquileia. Understanding and remembering is the goal of every collection and in the cameo, next to the Greek inscription, a hand appears which, with thumb and index finger raised, pinches the lobe of one ear, considered the seat of memory: “My beloved, my beloved , remember me”. The precious artifact of the II.III century AD is located in the suggestive room that houses part of the immense collection of gems and cameos (over 6 thousand pieces), formed from the eighteenth century starting from many private collections then merged into the Museum, wanted in 1882 by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria.

The collection of gems and cameos

It is a softly lit room, wrapped in aqua green panels, where gems and stones, enhanced by backlighting or grazing lighting, glimmer like stars in a black sky. The natural stones, engraved, tell about gods, animals, symbols and the colors of amethysts, garnets, agates, onyxes, jasper come from other worlds, other times. They whisper distant stories. The setting, curated by the Tortelli Frassoni studio and enriched by many ancient quotations, is dominated by order, seriality and elegance, offering an immersive visit. One can only be dazzled. The eyes find peace in this geometry and so they can concentrate on the beauty dispensed with both hands and also usable on the new app which contains 150 specimens visible down to the smallest detail.

The new section

The second floor, which completes the recent refurbishment of the Museum, created by the Regional Directorate of Museums FVG (Mibact), now directed by Andreina Contessa, speaks of the opulence of Aquileia through objects for personal care, jewels and coins. Founded in 181 BC, the city developed around the forum and the port, taking advantage of its position in the ancient chessboard, so much so that Ausonio, in theOrder of cities noblemen, remembers her how most famous for its walls and harbor (very famous for the walls and the port). Aquileia was an economic and military hub, trade had chosen it as the basis for the arrival and departure of goods. Here arrived foodstuffs, ceramic and glass objects and also amber and precious stones worked in Aquileia itself and redistributed on a large scale. Without forgetting the comings and goings of peoples from the Middle East, North Africa, Dacia, as confirmed by funerary steles and inscriptions. The traffic of goods and the melting pot of people made Aquileia a rich and fruitful city: “Of the economic, social and cultural vivacity of the city, the aspects of luxury and wealth constitute one of the most evident manifestations, offering a privileged look at the many contacts interwoven with the most distant lands of ’empire: natural stones came from India, Arabia and Persia, amber came from the Baltic and the North Sea, worked into an infinite number of precious objects “, explains Marta Novello, director of the museum and curator of the exhibition, together with a passionate working group.

Crossroads of peoples and cultures

Aquileia must have been a swarm of ideas, cults, peoples: it seems to hear businessmen wandering around the forum with their sound coins of which the Museum offers specimens in gold, silver and bronze dating from the 4th century BC to the 6th century AD included those that came out of the Aquileia mint active from 295.296 AD and recognizable by the initials SMAQ, AQVIL e AQ. And matrons attended banquets laden with the rarest jewels, such as that sought.after gold necklace with 30 shell.shaped pendants that allude to the myth of Venus. There is no shortage of rings, earrings, bracelets in precious metals, in glass paste or in amber, a refined and expensive resin, true status symbol of antiquity. In Aquileia jewels, cups, mirrors, games, amulets were made in amber. Among the objects that can be admired at the Museum there are also laurel leaves with the inscription AN (NU) N (OVUM) F (AUSTUM) F (ELICEM), “Happy new year, lucky and happy”. Much more than a wish even for our troubled times.

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By Editor

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