Nationalism and Archaeology in Trentino

My paper at the Archaeology Seminars of the University of Bologna has just been published in this collection.

This paper drew on my MA dissertation to explore the tensions between nationalisms and archaeology in Trentino, where the construction of a city museum in Trento in the 19th century led to a series of debates on the story there represented: were the prehistoric inhabitants of the area closer to the Celts or the Etruscans? Was the area considered Italian or Gallic by the Romans? All these debates reflected the contemporary struggle for independence from Austria and the desire to become part of the newly formed Italian state.

In the paper, I focused particularly on the case of the Tabula Clesiana, a Roman inscription dating to the age of Claudius which cited the city of Trento, Tridentum, as a splendidum municipium, and conceded the Roman citizenship to its inhabitants. While Austrian museums, particularly the Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck tried to acquire the tabula, ultimately it stayed in Trento, acquired through a public subscription. The revenues from the edition of the text with its translation, sold with local newspapers, were used to finance the construction of a statue of Dante, another attempt to proclaim the ‘Italianity’ of the area.


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