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Unearthed treasures of Polizzi

Posted by Suzanne on 29 Sep 2017



Take a few steps down from Polizzi Generosa’s main street, into the silence of the vaulted basement of the 17th century former Jesuit monastery (now the home of Polizzi’s town hall), and there you will find a fabulous small archaeological museum filled with Hellenistic burial treasures (from the 4th -2nd century BC) uncovered in 1992 in the San Pietro suburban area just outside Polizzi's historic centre.


Unearthed Greek burial treasures 

Unearthed riches in terracotta, iron and bronze from a Greek necropolis, around 2400 years old, fill the numerous glass cabinets: amphoras; character and divinity statues; bronze cups; small oil burners; a tripod; toys; a mirror; tiny vases; a baby’s feeding bottle; a sewing needle; miniature plates and some vibrantly painted and embossed green ceramic fragments.


A classic amphora

A large Greek amphora, classically decorated in black and red with two scenes, one of Hercules fighting the Nemean lion, is the museum’s centrepiece. And yet, it is the knuckle bones for play which stopped me.

A small and detailed tourist guide book all about Polizzi, called 'Stones that Narrate' notes that 'most of the funeral equipment refers to children and infants'...'the infants' tombs were buried, the youths and adults, cremated'.

And, 'some of the big amphoras in the necropolis were used as containers where infants and many small vases were placed'. 


 A town of ceramic makers

This important local museum also tells something of Polizzi Generosa’s pottery making and terracotta history.

The pottery artisans of Polizzi probably began some 2400 years ago when the conquering Greeks settled the area. It continues today. But the local ‘fat’ clay of Polizzi, rose in colour, is no longer mined. Clay is brought in from other spots in Sicily.


Green ceramic fragments

And those lovely green ceramic fragments I like remind me of a set of dark green glazed terracotta bowls I bought from the local potter Giovanni d’Angelo a few years ago.

They are enjoyed by our guests holidaying at the house.

Giovanni’s pottery shop, d'angelo ceramiche sits almost opposite the entry to the archaeological museum and he fires all his pieces in his workshop just outside town.





A Note: The museum is in Italian only but don't let that stop a visit.

Sources: 'Stones that Narrate' by the Comune di Polizzi Generosa and 'Archaeology -The Inland Sites' edited by Stefano Vassallo & Rosa Maria Cucco.

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