The Museum (go to the official website) finds space in the imposing neoclassical architecture of the eighteenth-century Ospedale degli Infermi (1771/1784), created by Antonio Foschini and Gaetano Genta. It is one of the most significant and monumental buildings of the charming historic center of Comacchio.
There is exhibited a rich heritage of archaeological heritage from the territory, from the earliest testimonies of protohistoric times up to the Middle Ages. Through the exhibition of nearly two thousand exhibits and thanks to evocative reconstructions, agile guide devices and moments of interaction and involvement of the public, the museum tells the story of the ancient mouth of the Po which, with the numerous navigable canals and earth, over the centuries has been an important trade and civilization hub that connected the Mediterranean world and continental Europe.
Of particular importance are the sections dedicated to the Etruscan city of Spina, with the objects coming from the town and the rich grave goods of the tombs, to the Roman world, to the birth of Comacchio in the early Middle Ages as a commercial emporium and bishop's seat. The museum has been transferred, with a striking new layout, to the precious cargo of the Roman ship of Comacchio, an authentic Pompei of the sea which is a cross-section of the globalized world of the Roman Empire
The museum is divided into thematic and chronological sections:
- The section dedicated to the territory studies the changes in the environment of the delta over the millennia, from the formation of the Po Valley to the present day. It turns out that there were alternating cycles of glaciations and marine invasions, very different environments from grasslands to tundras, forests, lagoons, until human settlement and the natural and artificial changes of the environment in historical times.
- The section of the final bronze age and first iron exhibits the oldest archaeological finds in the area, which highlight human settlements and findings similar to those of Frattesina, a center well known for trade between the Mediterranean and continental Europe in this era, which precedes Adria and Spina in this role. At these remote times in the Greek imaginary the myth of the fall of Phaethon in ancient Eridanus and of the research of amber dates back.
- The archaic and classical age is characterized by the story of the Etruscan city of Spina, a trading port and Etruscan outpost for trade to the Mediterranean East. It is investigated in its relations with Athens and the Greek civilization and with the Etruscan, Venetian, Celtic populations, in its structure of a "light" lagoon city on the river, with its necropolis placed on the sea bumps.
- The Roman Age section presents a delta area in the orbit of Ravenna, home of the Adriatic imperial fleet. A land of agricultural and industrial production, fish farming and salt production, and once again a fundamental center of water and land connection between Rome and northern Italy, the Adriatic and the Balkan regions. The delta, completely Romanized in the period between the end of the Republic and the first Empire, testifies to its commercial vocation through the exceptional discovery made by the ship of Valle Ponti, testimony of the era of Augustus and the globalized world of Rome.
- Late medieval age: in an era when Roman cities declined and in some cases disappeared, a series of settlements along the northern Adriatic coast were born almost from nothing in areas protected by rivers and lagoons in a disputed area between Goths, Byzantines and Lombards : first of all Venice and Comacchio.
The archeology of Comacchio, whose salt production emerges, is important for the study of the European equilibrium in times when the Mediterranean ways of contact and commerce were not interrupted as we thought.
The story ends when, after the twelfth century, the main course of the Po goes away to the north and Comacchio ceases its commercial function, becoming a center devoted fundamentally to the economy of the valley and the fish and under the domination of external powers.
CURIOSITY: "The mysteries of archeology: The new theories linked to the mystery of the Roman ship of Comacchio".