The Samnite Museum (Palazzo Mazzarotta) is located in the old town centre of Campobasso and has been open to the public since 1995. It contains archaeological finds found in the territory of the ancient Samnium, ranging from late prehistory to the Middle Ages. It also exhibits material belonging to private collections, donated to the community of Campobasso in the second half of the 19th century, and finds which have come to light in modern archaeological excavations. In the section dedicated to the development of the Samnite culture, it is possible to go back to the second millennium B.C., when warrior clans, skilled in metalworking, formed. In the several showcases of the museum, in fact, you can admire bronze objects, such as weapons and jewels.
In the first millennium B.C., the ethnic identity of pre-Roman peoples is affirmed and the leaders would handle commercial and cultural contacts with neighbouring regions. In the tombs of the ruling classes, outfits made of exotic materials, such as pottery, bronze and amber were found. However, the the museum also shows aspects of everyday life, for example the rites and beliefs of these people who, for a long time, resisted the Roman domination.
The cult of Hercules, practiced in mountain sanctuaries, is testified by numerous bronze statuettes. The original architectural crockeries show part of the exterior appearance of the sanctuaries and the offerings to the god, rich in ceramics, crockery and jewels, testify the Sannites’ great devotion.
The Samnite language is very interesting: it is called Oscan and is present in the museum in a section with bronze plates, tiles and ceramic engravings. But the art and typical lifestyle of the Roman world also arrived in the Samnium, where many cities were founded. It can be seen in the use of the blown glass technique, marble sculptures, women’s toilette, and oil lamps.
Inside the museum you can see the rich tombs of Bulgarian knights dating back to the Midlle Ages and found in the Piana di Boiano, including the complete reconstruction of the tomb of a warrior and his horse with rich silver harnesses.
Copyright photos: www.musei.molise.beniculturali.it; Soprintendenza Archeologica Molise – Epifani