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The Antiquarium

The Antiquarium is the little archaeological museum housed in two small rooms of the custodian’s house in the Ancient Theatre, a house which was once called the House of the English because, it is thought, it was lived in by English families during the beginning of tourism in Taormina. The archaeological artefacts housed here are few, in that most of them ended up in Naples, Messina and Syracuse.

Among the most interesting things is a large square block of Taormina marble which was the base of a statue. On the front there is an inscription reading “the population of Tauromenitani (the people from Taormina) dedicated to Olympio, the winner of the horse race in the Olympic Races”.

A testimony that the ‘ Tauromenion’ was a winner in the Olympic Games at that time. This statue base was found in 1770 when enlargement work was carried out on the S. Maria del Valverde monastery, today being a police station. Another statue base, again in Taormina stone, and judging from the inscription on it, the Taormina people had dedicated to Caio Claudio Marcello who was Governor of Sicily in 77 B.C.

Again in Taormina stone, is a pillar 1.75m tall and discovered in 1864. It is the ‘Tavola degli Strategi’ (Strategists’ Tablet), a marble stone tablet with the sculpted names of strategists who were not military ones, but were provosts for the administration of justice in Taormina. Another pillar represents the ‘Tavola dei Ginnasiarchi’ (Superintendent of Game’s Tablet), magistrates who ran the Gymnasium, the psycho-physical gym for young people. The small, oval sarcophagus of marble is interesting. It is probably the shape of a child. The exterior is sculpted in high-relief with children’s uproarious scenes.

The sarcophagus was discovered in 1839 in the garden of the Monastery of Minor priests who followed the Franciscans and today the monastery is a rest home for the Missionaries of Maria Franciscan nuns. There are also blocks of stone, well polished on the front, with engravings reporting the finances of the ‘Polis ’ which were found in 1833 at the foot of the Greek Roman theatre. As in Rome and Athens, Taormina therefore preserved “for eternity” its political, civil and financial documents, in that they were sculpted on stone.