Colonnata Inscription

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Colonnata Inscription

Roman Cippus found at ColonnataIn [1810], an important inscription was found buried in the valley of Colonnata, above Carrara, sculptured on a piece of white marble similar to that quarried on the very spot, and bearing the names of Decius Halerius Agrippa and Caius Sulpicius Galba, consuls in the 8th year of Tiberius, i.e: A.D. 22, being the reign in which Strabo wrote, and showing that Carrara marble was then worked. (S. Quintino, Atti della R. Accademia di Torino, [1823], p.267.)  I noticed two monumental inscriptions about a mile from Miseglia, the property of a gentleman, who had discovered them close to his house; another, of the time of Septimus Severus, was found in the neighbourhood many years ago: numerous others have, doubtless, been destroyed by the villagers, to whom fragments of statuary marble are but as road-metal.  Polvaccio quarry, four miles north-east of Carrara, is acknowledged to date from Roman times, and to be the spot whence the marble for the Pantheon was obtained.  Though originally erected by Agrippa, BC26, that superb building is still in a good state of preservation.  Roman Basso-Relievo at Fantiscritti QuarryBut the most interesting relic at Carrara is the basso-relievo, attributed to Roman times, which I visited at the quarry of Fantiscritti, representing Jupiter, Hercules, and Bacchus standing together.  It is sculptured on the vertical face of the living rock, in a very inaccessible part of the quarry, several hundred feet above the valley.  It has excited great attention from antiquaries, but the age cannot well be determined.  I append an engraving of this inscription, kindly copied for me by Prof. Pelliccia, at Carrara.

Pliny says that Mamurra, a Roman knight, and prefect of Caesar’s smiths in Gaul, incrusted his villa, on the Mons Coelium at Rome, with Lunar marble, all the columns being of the same stone, and that he was the first Roman who thus employed marble for house decoration. (Pliny; Lib. L, cap. 36, sect. 7.) 

On the very reliable authority of Repetti, who was a native of Carrara, the following objects of ancient Rome have been verified to be of Lunar or Carrara marble:

  • The doorway of the Pantheon.
  • The theatre of Gubbio.
  • The palace and arch in Via Domiziana.
  • The baths of Caracalla.
  • The bust of Cicero in the Borgia museum.
  • Apollo Belvedere, excavated at Nero’s Villa, mentioned by Pliny.

Excerpt from The Mineral Resources of Central Italy by William Paget Jervis – 1862


Further Reading and External Links

Marble Quarries of the Colonnata Fields

Colonnata History