Aquileia is an ancient Roman city in Italy, at the head of the Adriatic sea. Nowadays, the city is small (about 3,500 inhabitants), but in the 2nd century AD it was one of the world’s largest cities, with a population of 100,000. Today it’s one of the main archeological sites of Northern Italy.
A visit to the National Archeological Museum at Aquileia
is extremely fascinating from a designer perspective. The museum hosts a great collection of statues and mosaics, and even if their artistic value is undoubtable, at the time of their creation their raison d’être was also quite pragmatic. To celebrate an important person or event, to communicate in the public space, to do religious or political propaganda or to build trade relationships.
Trying to understand the function of these artifacts and imagining their role in a social context might somehow diminish the aura they hold as pieces of art. Nonetheless, a colder look produces an interesting link to today’s production of images and iconic objects, that often serve similar objectives. Therefore, even if the museum collection is two thousand years old, it’s very inspiring both from an aesthetic and intellectual point of view.
Below a selection of photographs, mainly portraits of significant people and divinities, which imply how since ancient times the cult of personality worked in a very simple way: a reproduction of his/her face.