Archaeological Museum of Bologna

Museo Civico Archeologico
Via dell'Archiginnasio 2 - 40124 Bologna

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Via de' Musei 8 – 40124 Bologna
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Collections / Ricerca / Etruscan Bologna

The hoard of San Francesco (room Xb)

A small room, Xb, houses the stunning relics discovered by Antonio Zannoni in 1878, near the San Francesco Basilica, in what is now Piazza De' Marchi: a large terracotta pot (dolium) buried close by a shack containing 14,838 bronze and three iron items, weighing a total of more than fourteen quintals.

Both Zannoni and most researchers so far have considered this unique discovery to be a foundry store, because it contained broken objects set aside to be recast, semi-finished items, rejects, and blocks of raw metal, almost all copper to alloy with tin and make bronze.

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Raw materials were certainly imported since there are no known mineral deposits exploited in antiquity on Bolognese territory. Moreover, stocks of scrap must have been imported for recasting, given the variety and chronology of the items found in the store, only part of which could be connected to the Bologna area. This suggests busy trade in the metalworking sector, which could be expected only in a rich and socially complex settlement, which Bologna was at the end of the 8th–start of the 7th century BC.

The materials from the hoard offer extensive documentation which is even more precious because it includes everyday items that would not normally be found in tombs. The stock was mainly axes (4044), fibulae (3026), metal blocks (about 1000), knives, bill-hooks and scythes, horse bits, chisels, gouges and drills, fragments of razors, weapons (swords, spears, daggers), scraps of plate from various items (pots, belts, etc.).

The various instruments document chief subsistence activities like agriculture and arboriculture, hunting and fishing, as well as craft activities like wood and metalworking.

Provenance: Bologna, piazza de' Marchi
Datation: First quarter of 7th century BC

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Exhibition rooms | Room X - Etruscan Bologna