On a recent trip to Naples, Italy, I explored some of the rich historical sites on offer...
Napoli is a city that has a very rich and varied history. Originally built by the Greeks, it has since been occupied in turn by the great French and Spanish empires who have each left their influence behind in the architecture. Although the streets are narrow and the shops/houses are cramped together, just around any corner could be something truly unique; whether it be a statue, church or one of several castles!
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
The museum of archaeology
is surprisingly big and as you would probably imagine, focuses quite heavily on Roman artefacts and especially many, many busts! However, I was amazed to find a section on the Sythian empire here as well and as this is an area that I know embarrassingly little, it was fantastic to have the opportunity to find out more.
Without even considering the exhibits, the museum itself is a work or art. The intricately painted ceilings alone must have taken the artist years to make.
As one of the most famously depraved civilisations, the museum here celebrates anything and everything that Roman art had to offer, including a “secret room” behind the mosaics containing a variety of phallic sculptures and ancient erotic art!
Art like this is still created today, inspired by the Roman past. One beautiful example of an artist we have recently discovered is below.
Check out more work from Storrvara on his Etsy
page as he is extremely talented!
The highlight for me, however, was the mosaic room. Many of the pieces here were rescued from the ruins of Pompeii (which I will tell you about soon...) and despite the damage, the craftsmanship is stunning. Especially considering how the empire will have had to source the different colours to make the art in the first place.
In pride of place on the wall here is the famous mosaic of Alexander the Great’s decisive victory against King Darius III of Persia at Issus. Whilst there was a larger battle at Gaugamela, the surprise charge of Alexander’s cavalry at Issus surely changed the balance of power in the region and was the beginning of the end for Darius.
On a personal level, this mosaic has fascinated me for decades ever since I saw historian Michael Wood’s tv series “In the footsteps of Alexander the Great”. Well worth watching or reading the book if you get chance. Read more here
The level of detail within all of the mosaics on display is incredible... to the point where the craftsman even chose to include a realistic image of a horses bum hole within the frantic battle scene... talk about dedication to your art!
Written by Duncan Reed