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:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.