Volterra Collection

The Volterra Collection of Antiquities

Since 2018 the project also includes the study of the antiquities originally collected by the famous Italian mathematician and Senator, Vito Volterra. This study has recently, thanks to the kind generosity of the Volterra family, been laid in the hands of the archaeologists, Mette Moltesen (Copenhagen) and Germana Vatta (Rome), in collaboration with Giuseppina Ghini (SABAP) and Maria Grazia Granino Cecere. The Volterra collection of antiquities is predominantly housed at the Villino Volterra in Ariccia, which still is in the possession of the Volterra family.

Originally much richer and more extensive, the collection was heavily affected by raids and devastations occurring during the Second World War – when the Villa was first confiscated by the German army and subsequently used as a shelter for refugees – as well as thefts of more recent date. Today, indeed, only a small part of its original holdings of sculptures, reliefs, urns, sarcophagi, architectural marbles, and Roman inscriptions, is still visible in the gardens and the interiors of the villa. However, significant traces of the missing antiquities can be tracked thanks to the several old photographs, in which they appear and possibly more can be traced through the channels of the antiquarian market.

While shedding new light upon the figure of Vito Volterra, not only an outstanding man of science but also a collector and a refined connoisseur of antiquities, the value of this collection also lies in identifying the provenience of the individual items. Probably most of the antiquities, in fact, come from the town of Ariccia and its surroundings. Archival documents indeed show that some of the ancient artefacts were found during the building of the villa itself in 1904. In addition, however, other antiquities have been acquired through the Roman antiquarian market. For example, a provenience from Rome has been ascertained for the funerary urn CIL VI 29384. The impact of the Volterra collection of antiquities within the framework of our project is therefore evident. This study will clearly enhance our knowledge of the monuments, which probably originally stood along the 16th mile of the Via Appia, and of sculpture in general (not only from a funerary context) but also contribute to the social history of the investigated area in the Roman period. The Volterra collection of antiquities is unpublished except for two items: the alter of the Imperial libertus Macrinus, procurator of the XX hereditatium regionis Tarricinensis, probably dated to the Hadrianic period and the sarcophagus with Nekya, which probably comes from the territory of ancient Aricia.


Gasparri, C. 2013: Un nuovo sarcofago con Nekyia tipo Villa Giulia, RM 119, 201-220.
Granino Cecere, M.G. 2011: Nuovi dati sulla vicesima hereditatium da un documento epigrafico nel territorio aricino, in G. Ghini (ed.), Lazio e Sabina 7, Roma, 283-288.
Taglietti, F. 2014: Un nuovo sarcofago con scene dell’oltretomba ad Ariccia. Qualche riflessione, ArchClass 64, 433-459.
Veneziani, R. & V. Volterra 2011: Il villino Volterra di Ariccia, Roma.

Further information: http://www.villinovolterra.it/