Passions & Places

The Greeks

The Greeks 
Due to its particular geographic collocation, the territory of the Marches has always been natural crossing of historical happenings, commerce and cultural interference. Thanks to it, the open character of its people was formed, and the name, underlining the interesting richness of this angle of Italy, was coined in plural (le Marche).

Piceni, Picenti and Gauls from the Saone populated already in the pre-Roman epoch this land that overlooks important merchant routes of the Adriatic Sea. The contact with the splendour of the Greek culture and its influence is proved by testimonies and the scripts of Greek geographers and the erudite (such as Strabone), who declaimed fertility and excellent wine of the Marches.

The town of Ancona was built around 388 BC by Greek colony from Siracusa. Inspired with the natural form of its bay that would become an important military and commercial pier, they named it Ankòn (elbow). Excavations brought to light few but significant ruins of a Hellenic necropolis from between the 4th and the 1st century BC, and a settlement the intense merchant activity of which is testified by the variety of Mycenaean, Daunian and Attic ceramics today exposed in the National Museum of Archaeology. In various zones of Doric town (traditional adjective used to define the Greek character of Ancona) for example, were found fragments of Mycenaean ceramics. Even the cathedral of San Ciriaco was built (in the 11th century) on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Venus.

Another important commercial centre where hundreds of merchant ships transited was the small port of Numana. A collection of Grecian necklaces, utensils, bronzes, ceramics, furnishing and personal cure objects can be admired in the local Antiquarium, together with numerous finds of the Piceni from more than two thousand tombs discovered in this area.

For centuries Osimo preserved two white marble Greek statues called Kouroi Milani, exposed in the Museum of Archaeology of Florence since 1902, when Luigi Adriano Milani, director, bought them. Whether those two sculptures were originally discovered on the territory of Osimo, or were brought there during the intense commerce of antiquities that, since the 15th century, connected tightly this zone with Greece, is still not known.

The same particular and severe stile of those sculptures characterises another small Kouros found in Pioraco, which re-confirms the diffusion of the Greek culture on great part of the territory of the Marches. As happens in the port of Grottammare, already in the pre-Roman epoch considered extremely important. The Piceni had established here solid merchant relationship with the coasts from the other side of the Adriatic Sea, in order to benefit from the so called via dell’ambra, commercial net on the Adriatic routes through which the precious fossil resin (amber) from the Baltic regions was hauled.

An elegant Greek amphora was found in Tolentino, too (exposed in the local Museum of Civil Archaeology), and in Treazzano di Monsanpolo del Tronto an interesting Mycenaean fragment (collocated in the Laboratory of the Museum of Archaeology of this small town). Further confirmations are certainly not necessary to prove that the great Greek civilisation, together with the Piceni and the Gauls - before succumbing to the Roman expansionism - was able to enrich the Marches with its own refined culture.

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