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Historiographie et identités culturelles

Il Sarcofago degli Sposi : dalla scoperta alla realtà virtuale

Rita Cosentino
p. 27-41


The story of the discovery of the Sarcophagus of the Spouses is the same as that of an endless number of archaeological findings that ended up in the collections of foreign museums. The historic context is that of an Italy of the Risorgimento period, where archaeology represented a subject of research and study reserved to a few cultural elites and a source of income for landowners and merchants who availed themselves of manpower sometimes recruited among the agricultural settlers of the great families, proprietors of the large estates. Precisely in the estate of the Ruspoli family, the nowadays Necropolis of the Banditaccia, the Boccanera brothers found in 1881 the shattered Sarcophagus of the Spouses whose fragments were scattered between the interior and the exterior of the tomb, already compromised because of previous excavations. The material of the burial kit was composed of a group of Corinthian vases. The Bulletins, the news about the 1881 excavations, and the archive documents related to the Boccanera excavations are rather poor, but a compared review of these documents allows to dare some hypothesis. The story of the events that brought the Sarcophagus of the Spouses to the Villa Giulia Museum in Rome comes from the Memorie di un archeologo, written by Felice Bernabei. Then, in the middle of the fifties the partnership between Renato Bartoccini and Eng. Maurilio Lerici, gave the start to many innovative projects, among which was the restoration of the Sarcophagus of the Spouses. It was not the bad conservation conditions to encourage the iron industry magnate to give financial support to the initiative, but the emotional involvement arising from the simple view of the extraordinary group. Well, what can we say… after more than half a century the same “emotional short circuit” has caught us as well: a multidisciplinary team represented by the Soprintendenza Archeologica del Lazio e dell’Etruria Meridionale, the Cineca, the University of Bologna, the CNR ISTI of Pisa, the CNR ITBC of Rome, and the Bruno Keller Foundation who worked in close collaboration in order to realize a technological product of high stringency. The article deals with all the operations that brought to the hologram of the Sarcophagus, subject of a definitely innovative exhibition, now concluded, which took place in Palazzo Pepoli, seat of the Museum of the City of Bologna. The digitizing operations allowed Giorgietto Giugiaro, renowned international car designer, to realize a clone in truth of the Sarcophagus of the Spouses which will be bound to the Raniero Mengarelli Didactic Hall inside the Necropolis of the Banditaccia.

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Full text document will be published online on October 2019.

First lines

La storia del rinvenimento del Sarcofago degli Sposi è quella comune ad innumerevoli reperti archeologici finiti in Collezioni di Musei stranieri. Il contesto storico, piacevolmente delineato da Filippo Delpino, è quello di una Italia risorgimentale, dove l’archeologia rappresentava materia d’indagine e studio da parte di poche élites culturali e fonte di guadagno per proprietari terrieri e mercanti d’arte che si servivano di manovalanze, talora tra gli stessi coloni delle grandi famiglie detentrici di latifondi.

Quali sono gli antefatti che portarono alla scoperta del Sarcofago degli Sposi di Villa Giulia da parte dei Boccanera, affittuari del principe Francesco Ruspoli ? Qualche informazione possiamo ricavarla dai documenti di archivio e dalle stringate informazioni dei Bullettini e Notizie degli Scavi.

In una nota datata al 30 dicembre 1880 (prot. nr. 5357) trasmessa alla Direzione degli Scavi di Roma, Domenico Boccanera richiede « di volergli rilasciare, a seconda del disposto, i...

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Bibliographical reference

Rita Cosentino, « Il Sarcofago degli Sposi : dalla scoperta alla realtà virtuale », Anabases, 24 | 2016, 27-41.

Electronic reference

Rita Cosentino, « Il Sarcofago degli Sposi : dalla scoperta alla realtà virtuale », Anabases [Online], 24 | 2016, Online since 01 October 2019, connection on 16 January 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/anabases.5822

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About the author

Rita Cosentino

Soprintendenza archeologia del Lazio e dell’Etruria meridionale (SAR-LAZ)

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