Longobard necropolises

The exhibition is introduced by panels illustrating the route of the Longobards from Scandinavia to Italy, and the historical and geographical context in which occurred the great movements of barbarians after the end of the Western Roman Empire.

In the halls 1-7 one can see, with some modifications, the same settings created in 1990 for the major international exhibition I Longobardi. Here one can follow the evolution of burial customs and handcrafts in Cividale and in the Longobard duchy of Friuli for more of two  centuries: from the arrival in 568 A.D. of the Germanic population in Forum Julii, which became the first Duchy of Italy, to the elaboration of the typical Longobard art of Italy and its evolution during the Carolingian period.

The first section of the main hall is the exhibition inaugurated in 2012 and dedicated to the necropolis of San Mauro hill, the northernmost of those that ring Cividale. The sector of the tombs excavated between 1994 and 1998 has been recreated. The clothing objects and the offerings coming from ten tombs are placed on silhouettes in the position they were found in, oriented east-west. The graphic reconstruction on panels permits visitors to interpret the grave goods exhibited and to recognize the gender, the age and the role of the deceased and the period.

The funerary equipments, characteristic of the Longobard cultural model and dated to the first period of settlement in Italy, are for the most part of exceptional richness and testify to the high social level of the group buried there. The are warriors of the upper class with their entire military equipment; upper class ladies with ornamental objects in gold, silver and semi-precious stones typical of the traditional customs already seen in Pannonia; children with grave goods including also traditional arms and jewels.

The social and cultural evolution of Longobards in Cividale and the development of the goldsmith’s art are readable in the extraordinary funerary objects of other necropolis located outside the city walls: Cella-S. Giovanni, Gallo, S. Stefano in Pertica, Ferrovia, all being result of partial excavations.

In the great necropolis of Cella-S. Giovanni is demonstrated the continuity of use by the Longobards of a Roman necropolis. The necropolis Gallo, and S. Stefano in Pertica, Ferrovia were the place of burial for immigrant generation but they were also used in later stages, with rich findings from the end of 6th to the beginning of 7th century: among these, from S. Stefano,  nine gold crosses, golden brocaded gallons adorning the robes, and the beautiful belt decoration, and the great fibula of the tomb 27.

Of great interest is the hall that hosts the Roman sarcophagus and the exceptional context which dates to middle of the 7th century, found in 1874 in the center of Cividale, in Piazza Paolo Diacono.

It is a significant example of a burial place in the urban space, presumably near the Palace former seat of the Corrector. It is traditionally attributed to Gisulfo, first Longobard duke of Cividale, as it would indicate the insciption Cisul engraved on the cover of the sarcophagus,  whose authenticity however is still uncertain.

The last two halls of the first floor contain the findings of several  researchs which are related to the social structure and to the organization, mostly military, of the territory.

The sites of strategic interest to the Longobards (castra, places to control roads) are marked by the presence of nobles in arms: one can see in particular San Salvatore di Maiano, and Magnano in Riviera (horseman kit with gold seal ring, set with a Byzantine solidus), Rodeano Alto. Longobards nobles are present in the earliest phases of the necropolis of Romans d'Isonzo which has been systematically studied by Soprintendenza, showing local characters especially in the later phases.

Some necropolis and settlements of the Alpine area as Liariis of Ovaro and the castrum of Invillino - Col Santino in Carnia, as well as the necropolis of the high Pordenone (Erto) and Belluno (Voltago) areas show the typical culture of local populations From these peripheral territories come also important devotional objects, heirs of Longobard metallurgy in the Carolingian period: the magnificent processional cross from the basilica of Invillino - Col di Zucca and the two elements (cross and plaque with scene of the Magi) of probable Cividalese production from San Zeno di Lestans in Pordenone foothills region.