The upper floors of the Regional Archaeological Museum in Aosta house prestigious exhibitions. The building was founded in 1633 by the marquis Pierre-Philibert Roncas and by his wife Emérentienne de Vaudan. Towards the half of the 18th century the monastery assumed the present appearance. The paintings on the façade (of the 19th century) reproduce the coat of arms of the Savoy House and the portraits of the main characters of the Challant House, who distinguished themselves for their military merits.
In the first hall are exhibited tiles and north-african oil lamps coming from regional collections. On the trail of the commercial and cultural axes of the areas of Mesopotamia and Anatolia, as well as following the transmission of megalithic monuments’ models, the exhibition includes some anthropomorphic steles discovered at the extraordinary archaeological site of Saint-Martin-de-Corléans, while in the show-cases are exposed artifacts found in Aosta Valley and dating back to the period going from the Mesolithic to the Salassi era.
Further on, the visit enters the wide space dedicated to Romanization, starting with the model of Augusta Praetoria and the milestone of Constantine, in the past positioned along the Road to Gauls. The two following rooms are reserved to the burial rituals and present some grave goods, together with a reconstruction of a funeral bed found in an incineration tomb in the necropolis of Saint Roch, at the eastern entrance of the roman city. The areas consecrated to the funeral epigraphs and local cults show various pieces, including the famous bronze balteus (belt) with battle scenes between Barbarian and Roman and the silver bust of Jupiter Dolichenus found at the Little St. Bernard Pass with other ritual objects. Public building works are depicted in a collection of prints with the main Aostan monuments, together with fragments of sculptures and frescoes, while everyday life is represented in table and cooking ornaments disposed in the reconstruction of a thermopolium (public place used to serve food and drinks). The roman section ends with the exhibition of personal ornaments and objects related to luxury and well-being.
The Christian-Medieval epoch is represented by the precious 8th-century pulpit found during excavations at Aosta Cathedral and some grave goods from the 4th to the 14th century, including gold decorated glasses and the knight’s sword coming from the Collegiate Church of Sant’Orso.
In the basement area of the Regional Archaeological Museum are conserved the remains of the south-eastern edge of the eastern tower of the Porta Principalis Sinistra, one of the four city gates of Augusta Praetoria, with the Roman levels and the only section of embankment, with the relative counterscarp, still resting on a part of the Roman walls.
The museum finally houses the prestigious “Pautasso” numismatic collection, with coins from the Greek era to the Savoy period. To notice the collection of Celtic, Gallic and Padanian coins.
The hall of the Carugo Collection exhibits findings of Etruscan civilization, of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
A bookshop at the entrance sells the catalogues of all art exhibitions hosted over the years by the Ministry for Education and Culture of the Valle d’Aosta autonomous Region.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.