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The Samnite Museum of Campobasso

The Samnites - "Sanniti" in Italian - were an ancient population that lived in central-southern Italy between the 7th - 6th century B.C and the first centuries of the Roman Empire. The area where they settled is known as Sannio which corresponds to the current territories of north-eastern Campania, upper Puglia, lower Abruzzo, and a large part of Molise.

Samnite bronze helmets shown at the Samnite Museum in Campobasso

This Italic population was mainly devoted to pastoralism but at the same time, they were known to be strong and brave warriors. They were organized into federated tribes which united in the powerful "Lega Sannitica" (the Samnite League).

For a long time, this strong league was able to stand up to the Romans, which managed to defeat them only after three intense bloody wars in 290 B.C.

This important population is little known by the general public. It is briefly mentioned in Italian history books and I met several non-Italian people passionate about Roman history that never heard about it. And this is surprising considering the importance they had in the Italian peninsula before they were defeated by the Romans.

The Museo Sannitico of Campobasso hosts most of the archaeological collection of Molise, including a large collection of Samnites finds: objects connected to domestic, religious, and funerary uses. Actually, as often happens for ancient populations, it is always the tombs that offer the most interesting findings. This is because they are better preserved by the weather and time corrosion: they are under the earth or hidden in covered spaces. Also, they contain a replica of the objects used in everyday life: it was believed that the dead had to have the best objects and utensils in the afterlife. Observing what was found in the Samnites tombs is clear how important was the role of the warriors in the society: their tombs contain the more refined objects, made with precious metal, including swords, belts, and helmets.

The museum is the oldest of the region, it hosts most of the archaeological collection of Molise and it is located in a beautiful palace in Campobasso historic center, Palazzo Mazzarotta . A visit to it is a must to understand more about the history of this part of Italy. It offers a meaningful overview not only of the Samnites population but also findings of Roman and medieval times.

Roman "Amphorae" found off the coast of Termoli.

Those jars were used to transport oil and wine, staples of the Mediterranean diet. Their unique shape was ideal to fit them in the ships while the long slim neck reduced the surface area of the liquid that would be exposed to oxygen.

You can find more information on their official website:


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