A Long Awaited Return

Written by  Fede Berti
After so many years, Ferrara's Museo Archelogico Nazionale is to reopen its doors.
The task of radically restoring and restructuring Ferrara's Palazzo Costabili that began ten years ago has still not been completed, but the work has now reached a stage that will allow public access to some of the rooms - as from next autumn - of the Museo Archaeologico Nazionale, which is housed in the building.

The Museum was first opened in 1935 and right from the start it revealed a remarkable capacity to attract visitors. This was thanks to two reasons: the noble monumental building in which it is housed - better known as the "Palazzo di Ludovico il Moro", one of the masterpieces of the Ferrarese architect Biagio Rossetti - and the refined culture of Spina, the Etruscan emporium of the delta, whose extraordinary materials were shown in rooms on the first floor.

Discovered only a short time before following the reclamation of Valle Trebba, the Spina find was one of the most important ever made in Italy and was to lead to the addition of other authoritative chapters to the Italian archeological record: the discovery of the large second sector of the necropolis (in Valle Pega) and the discovery of the township (in Valle del Mezzano, which like the other localities, also lies in the Comacchio district).
It is beyond doubt that, to this day, the vast presence that is Spina overshadows the varied and consistent evidence that comes from other parts of this area covering a time scale that begins in remote Neolithic times and stretches to the Middle Ages. The chronological excursus regarding the necropolis at Spina will be illustrated by means of the materials found in some of the most important burial sites.

The objects left alongside the dead during the dual ritual of interment and cremation constituted the ideological "baggage" required to ensure that in the afterlife they could continue to play the role they had played in life. This evocative material is complemented by the amazing repertory of images to be found on the Attic vases, a great number of which - including some rare examples - arrived in the Po delta region between the end of the Sixth and to a point midway through the Fourth century B. C. But despite the cultural pre-eminence of the Greeks, the city was Etruscan as are the figured bronzes and the gold-work, and virtually all the epigraphs scratched onto the finds made in the tombs. Also of prevalently Etruscan origin are the locally produced vases that we have classified as "alto-adriatici" (from the upper Adriatic).

When the section devoted to the settlement is complemented by the one that will illustrate the burial gound, we will be able to reconstruct various aspects of the settlement, which in some respects was in contrast with the opulence of the necropolis, and constantly subject to the unpredictability of the Delta area upon which it stood.