The responsibility for the preservation of cultural heritage lies with the state, the institutions do not let anybody else interfere with this matter. But what happens if the state does not fulfil this task because it does not dispose of the means necessary in order to do so? In Salerno, a city in the South of Italy, thousands of coins were about to stay locked up in storerooms – unrestored and uncatalogued. We would have lost an important source that tells the story of the city of Elea/Velia. But then, everything changed because it was possible to raise external funds.
Vote for Your Favourite Candidate in the Art Bonus Competition!
That is why this project, which deals with the coins from Elea/Velia, can participate in Art Bonus – it is the first numismatic project ever to do so! Art Bonus is a competition organised by the Ministry for Culture and Tourism and only projects that are receiving private funding can apply. The patrons of these cultural projects benefit from significant tax advantages, and the projects are being promoted thanks to the competition. Each year, a winner is chosen. The votes given to every single project on the website, on Instagram and on Facebook determine the winner. Everybody can vote once on each platform; therefore, each project can get up to three votes by one person. The competition runs until 7 January 2020, 12 p.m. (lunch time). Vote for the numismatic project on the website of Art Bonus!
Coins Tell the Story of the City of Elea / Velia
Around 535 BC, Greeks from Phokaia settled for the first time at the Gulf of Salerno. Elea was to become one of the most important cities of Magna Graecia. Especially the school of philosophy of the Eleatics made the city famous. The best-known representatives were Parmenides and Zeno. And, of course, the Eleatics also minted coins. And they did so for about 1000 years, until late antiquity. Approximately 10,000 coins were recovered during the archaeological excavations.
For the First Time Ever, a Private Institution Finances the Restoration of Coins
These 10,000 coins, which are part of the long history of Elea / Velia, had been kept in storerooms for a long time. The state would not have been able to finance their restoration in the foreseeable future. Thus, the Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Salerno and Avellino and the University of Salerno – successfully – approached a private institution that supports cultural projects, the Fondazione Nazionale delle Comunicazioni in Rome, in order to raise funds for their restoration project. According to the organisers of the project, it is the first time ever that such a numismatic project receives private funding in Italy.
On the one hand, the coins are to be used systematically by museums and digital channels in order to arouse the visitor’s enthusiasm for ancient history and for the stories of the town by means of storytelling. On the other hand, the researchers hope that the students and young researchers entrusted with the restoration and identification of the coins will get enthusiastic about numismatics and find their first job with this activity. Therefore, they hope that the project will be an investment into the professional future of the country.
For information about the project’s patron, visit the website of the Fondazione Nazionale delle Comunicazioni (also in Italian).