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April 2006: meeting and lessons with students of Liceo Ginnasio "Visconti", Rome, class 4F

The Visconti school is in the area of “Campo Marzio and the Collegio Romano” and the lessons and visits to the Museo Nazionale Romano and Palazzo Altemps, concentrated on this area.

The project had two phases: the first was a tour of the ancient centre of Campo Marzio, with a guide from the Archives and Museum of Palazzo Altemps. The second meeting was a visit to the Archives. This last was to show students the documents relating to the Archaeological monuments seen during the first tour. Both phases of the project were organised with the collaboration of the teachers.

The tour of Campo Marzio showed the students the archaeological remains still visible in the modern area around their school and followed a route passing all the ancient monuments between Piazza del Collegio Romano and the Pantheon.

Walking through alleys and squares the students reconstructed a corner of the topography of Ancient Rome. The guide helped students note curious details such as the marble cat on the eaves of Palazzo Grazioli on Via Grazioli, the large marble foot on the corner of via Piè di Marmo and Via S. Stefano del Cacco. Both these were part of an important building, the Iseo and Serapeo; a sancturary in Campo Marzio dedicated to Isis and Serapide.

During the second lesson, in the Archives, the students saw the original documents recording archaeological findings in central Campo Marzio. They thus continued the theme of the topography of this area.

They studied the “Excavation Journals” containing the reports of excavations carried out in 1923 in the sector between Via del Gesù and Via del Corso. They saw that the pavement of travertine slabs in Piazza del Collegio Romano was discovered during this time.

During the visit to Palazzo Altemps, the students saw one of the most important discoveries in this area: the statue of Athena with snake discovered before 1627. The statue is part of the Boncompagni Ludovisi collection.

To conclude, the students studied the section of the Archaeological Map of Rome (Carta Archeologica di Roma) corresponding to the site of the “Visconti” school. This showed all the finds of the area.

These types of “visits and lessons” were experimental. The aim was to link archaeological remains with the documents that report their discovery and subsequent history. Given the interest and enthusiasm with which the students participated, the project will be continued in the following academic year.

text: Luigia Attilia

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