Split Archaeological Museum: Some Highlights

P1140955Most finds from Salona are today in the wonderful Split Archaeological Museum that has extremely helpful staff. The museum building itself is quite small, but there’s a rather large annex with many interesting finds to explore. Here are some highlights and personal favourites from my visit in September.

A Priapus is always a crowd pleaser among museum visitors, and the example in Split is no disappointment (photo on the right). This proud Priapus is ‘attached’ to a small statue of Venus Ansotica, based on a Hellenistic type and found in Aenona (modern Nin). It has a (very fragmentary) votive inscription on its base.

Split Archaeological MuseumThe museum also holds some interesting ‘provincial’ sculpture, mostly made from limestone. One such example is the head of Polyphemus to the left. It was found in the amphitheatre of Salona, and is dated in the museum to the early 4th century AD. This particular Polyphemus is shown with no less than three eyes!

Another example of ‘local’ production is a group of reliefs dedicated to Silvanus (on the cult of Silvanus in Dalmatia, see now Prusac 2007: 295-302). On these, the god of the woods is often shown together with dancing nymphs. Dance seems to have been an important part of his cult. In the example below, Silvanus/Pan is represented alone, except for the presence of an apparently rather vicious dog! In a ‘metropolitan’ version of a similar motif (in the Palazzo Massimo, Rome, if I remember correctly), Hadrian’s boyfriend Antinous is represented as Silvanus and also shown with a dog, but one that looks somewhat more friendly…

Split Archaeological MuseumAt the other end of the sculptural spectrum, so to speak, are interesting finds of ‘Hellenistic’ types, such as the previously mentioned Venus Ansotica and a headless torso belonging to an ‘Old Fisherman’ (a type that I have previously written about on the blog, photo below the fold). There is also a number of very fine portraits of both locals and the imperial family. The ‘small finds’ section of the museum is also spectacular with several very fine bone carvings, stucco portraits from graves at Issa, and aegyptiaca. All in all, the Split Archaeological Museum is another good reason to visit Split! Some further highlights can be found below the fold.

A couple more highlights from the Split Archaeological Museum. Click on the images for brief descriptions on my Flickr page.

Split Archaeological Museum Split Archaeological Museum

Split Archaeological Museum Split Archaeological Museum

Emilio Marin et al. 2003. Archaeological Museum Split. Guide. Split: Arheoloski Muzej.

Marina Prusac. 2007. South of the Naro, North of the Drilo, from the Karst to the Sea. Cultural Identities in South Dalmatia 500 BC-AD 500. PhD dissertation, University of Oslo.

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