Archeologico Archeologico

(Archaeological Museum) 20

Museo archeologico

The archaeological collection of the Municipality of San Miniato ,was opened to the public with a view to displaying and valorizing finds that can help to reconstruct local ancient history. Although the studies and materials are still partially in the elaboration phase, it is nevertheless already possible to trace out the features of the territory of San Miniato as it was in antiquity. The hills on wich San Miniato stands and the plain beneath were probably already inhabited in Etruscan-Roman times. There is abundant evidence from the Roman age, yielded  by casual discoveries which took place from the eighteenth century on, such as the inscriptions of Corniano, in the vicinity of Corazzano, the coins from the cupboard dating to the age of Silla from Santa Lucia a Scoccolino conserved in the Coins collection of the Archaeological Museum of Florence, inscriptions and ephigraphs from the Augustan Age and tomb furnishings dating to the middle imperial age in the district of Montalbano. The presence of a centre of Roman power in the area of the Rocca cannot be ruled out ,but nor unfortunately are there proofs of the same. The area of the lower Valdarno was moreover subject to Roman centuriation between 41 and 27 BC,when lands were assigned to the veterans by the Emperor Augustus, and this favoured the development of small settlements. The theory that the area was already frequented in the Etruscan period was instead confirmed by the discovery in 1934 of a necropolis in the district known as Fontevivo, at the foot of the hill looking towards the Arno. The archaeological excavation  brought to light a considerable group of finds, all of which are visible in the rooms of the museum. These include amphorae used for transport, cinerary urns, toilet accessories such as the circular mirror showing the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) on the front ,crockery and other objects. The reason for the discovery of such articles in the burial areas is linked to the ancient pagan belief that the dead lingered in the tomb ,which was also widespread among the Etruscans. The finds can be dated between the fourth and the second century BC. A marble statue of a funereal deity ,discovered in the environs of the necropolis and visible in the definitive layout, can be dated to the same period. Another fascinating section of the museum is that devoted to the village of San Genesio, illustrating the results of the excavations in progress since 2001.The first records of this village, located between Ponte a Elsa and La Scala close to the river Elsa ,date to 715. During the Middle Ages it was an important centre of the lower Valdarno ,being situated at the junction between two important thoroughfares : the road linking Pisa to Florence and the Via Francigena. The village is recorded by numerous sources as the site of important events ,and as an almost inevitable stopping place for public authorities on their way through Tuscany. In 990 the Bishop of Canterbury stopped here, the Emperor Henry III in 1055,Pope Gregory VII and many others. Excavations have brought to light the remains of the early mediaeval parish church, as well as fragments of fine ceramic tableware ,amphorae of the imperial and late antique age, buckles, and waste from the processing of metals that illustrate a vital and flourishing craft activity  in the village as far back as the late antique period. The continuity of human settlement in the area is also testified by the coins found in the earth, which range in date from the Republican era to the Middle Ages. The expansionist ambitions of San Genesio were obstructed by the inhabitants of San Miniato, who attempted to destroy it on several occasions. In 1217 San Miniato gained the upper hand when the Emperor Frederick II granted it possession of the village, which was then definitively  destroyed in 1248 .The display is rounded off by two interactive plastic models: one illustrates the urban layout of San Miniato in the Middle Ages, and the other represents a reconstruction of the various phases of human settlement that characterised this area from prehistory to the time of the Etruscans, and from the Romans to the Middle Ages, showing the route of the Via Francigena and the position of the parish churches and castles.