Museo delle Civiltà

Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico "Luigi Pigorini"

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Formation of the collections



The Palethnological collections


The first group of materials was collected through a circular (No. 458 of   November 8, 1875) of Giuseppe Fiorelli, at that time the Director General of Monuments and Excavations at the Ministry of Education, which called upon all of the Inspectors of Excavations and Monuments in the Kingdom to assist with the establishment of the new National Museum of Prehistory in Rome (inaugurated on March 14, 1876) and to submit selections of the most significant "prehistoric relics" found in their regions to Rome.


Over the years the Museum acquired yet more of the Italian collections, including: the collections of Concezio Rosa (Vibrata Valley) and of the Baron Klitsche de la Grange (Tolfa mountains), the prehistoric material which was preserved in the Kircher Museum, the collections of R. Lanciani (Veii), M. S. de Rossi (various locations in the tomb of Viterbo and Sgurgola), the “fibula praenestina”, the collection of L. Nardoni (archaic tombs and votive offerings discovered in Rome), material found in terramare of the province of Modena and from the Neolithic complex in Alba (Piedmont) and remains from the Cava Pertosa (Salerno).


Later acquisitions included: materials from the Upper Paleolithic found on the terraces overlooking the Aniene river, i paleosuoli scavati in via Boccea, l'industria pontiniana su ciottolo del Paleolitico medio e superiore, delle grotte del Circeo: Breuil, delle Capre e Guattari e dal riparo Blanc, Upper Paleolithic stone tools from the Polesini cave (Ponte Lucano, Tivoli), il grande ripostiglio di Ardea,  the materials from Grotta Misa, the Tivoli graves, the villanovian grave goods from Tarquinia, the extraordinary context della cultura campaniforme of Fosso Conicchio, the Eneolithic grave "of the widow " from the necropolis of Ponte S. Pietro, the Cavallo Morto necropolis of Anzio (and acquisition that took place after the death of Luigi Pigorini, in 1925). In 1962, the Museum's famous Neanderthal skull (found in the Guattari cave on Monte Circeo in 1939) was featured in the exhibition of the Prehistory of Lazio.




The Ethnographic collection


The first group of objects, collected between 1635 and 1680 by the Jesuit Father Athanasius Kircher, came from items collected by the missions of the Capuchins in the Congo and Angola and those of the Jesuits in China, Brazil and Canada and were then kept in the Kircher Museum. To this core of objects Pigorini added a number of "exotic curiosities" which had flooded into Europe after the discovery of America and had previously been components of the major collections of 18th century Italy.

These collections were enriched by pieces from travellers and explorers returning from the four corners of the world between the end of the 1800’s and the first decades of the 1900’s.






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