Passions & Places

The Piceni










I Piceni

It is not by chance that Le Marches are the only region in Italy to have a name in the plural, as to underline the different historic and local vocations which characterized the towns of the region. To grasp a common cultural identity that may unify the many realities of this charming region, it is necessary to look at the prosperous ancient civilization of the Piceni.

The Piceni lived in Le Marches’ territory (and in part of the Abruzzi) between the 9the and the 3rd centuries B.C. Their origins are still unknown; Sabines or Illyrians, it seems they were called Piceni because of the woodpecker – a bird sacred to Mars – that towered over their emblem.

Starting from the 4th century B.C. Greek and Latin authors such as Pliny, Strabone and Livy celebrated the deeds of these strong warriors and the goodness of their fertile land. It is thanks to the strategic location that the Piceni could easily establish relations with the major neighbouring populations of those times (Etruscans, Umbri, and Smnites), thus contributing to trade on the amber route. Along with ivory, iron, bronze, gold, silver, ceramic and glass paste, amber was skillfully worked by the Piceni, to create the numerous finds that were discovered in the Marches.

The objects created by this population remained concealed in necropolises for centuries, between the rivers Foglia and the town of Pescara, and are now visible in museums. They bear witness to an aristocratic and warlike society, proud of its own strength and growing wealth.

It is possible to imagine the Piceni engaged in their main activities, such as cattle breeding, farming, metallurgy and trade, but also struggling in wars. The objects found in their graves reflect the power and the importance of people, buried with the objects of everyday use, jewels, weapons, and even carts.

The burial sites also bear witness to the decay of this population, stamped on by the power of the Greek town of Ancona and by the gradual expansion of the Senoni Gauls in the central-northern Piceno area. Ancona was founded in the 4th century B.C. by settlers from Syracuse.    

The Marches regional authorities (in collaboration with the Abruzzi regional authorities) has recently promoted a programme of initiatives aimed at knowing and enhancing the Piceni civilization and its rich cultural and historic heritage. A series of museums started to display many extraordinary and valuable objects collected all over the regional territory. A wonderful itinerary was organized, through which the places of the Piceni are revelaed to visitors in all their splendour.   

The Piceni in Le Marches’ museums

The series of museums is composed of two main centres:

·        The Archaeological Museum of Le Marches in Ancona;

·        The State Archaeological Museum in Ascoli Piceno.

A series of 21 museums completes this network, which – in the name of the proud Piceno people - organizes, recovers and unifies a precious cultural heritage that has hitherto been lost.  

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