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Museo Archeologico Nazionale Canosa di Puglia
Photo: Canosa Live

Museo Archeologico Nazionale Canosa di Puglia

Museo Archeologico Nazionale Canosa di Puglia is a museum and exhibition space in Canosa di Puglia, Barletta-Andria-Trani, Puglia. It is also the base of the Archaeological Foundation Canosina and home to the Superintendent of Archaeological Heritage of Apulia.

Since 1994, the Museum has been located in the nineteenth-century Palazzo Sinesi. This follows an agreement between the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Heritage (now the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism) and the Canosina Archaeological Foundation.

Located on Via Kennedy, the beautiful building is named after an affluent local family from the 18th century. The building is neoclassical with a typical limestone floor, long windows and a huge wooden front entrance.

The museum has several floors. Whilst people visit for the exhibitions, the museum also serves as an important community space. It is used as a warehouse for the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for Puglia’s Barletta-Andria-Trani and Foggia provinces, as well as storage for the exhibits from Canosa currently not on display in the museum.

The museum hosts a mix of temporary and permanent exhibitions. These displays best represent Canosa society between the Archaic and Hellenistic periods, which ended in 31 BC. Canusion (as it was then known) was, during Magna Grecia, an important commercial centre for craftsmen specialising in ceramics and pottery. Shortly after, the town became a hub for agricultural production and trade, particularly in producing and exporting Puglian wool.

Part of the archaeological exhibition in the museum is devoted to treasures from archaic tombs and rich Hellenistic hypogea. Overall, the museum serves to show us the customs and attitudes of Canosa society around Roman times, as well as the high quality of the local handicraft for which Canosa was well known.

The museum’s depiction of Canosa’s history is the best in the area. Canosa has been occupied since the Bronze Age. Around the 6th century BC, the Daunians, an Indo-European-speaking tribe which occupied the majority of Puglia at the time. This helped Canosa to become very prosperous, now shown by the remains of affluent treasures in the town’s underground burial chambers.

In 318 BC, the town became allies with Rome. As with many other towns in Puglia, the Romans embarked on a modernisation project, building roads, infrastructure and an amphitheatre.

The Romans formed an official Municipium in the 1st century, helping to establish a social contract with taxation and military service in exchange for governmental support. At this stage, Canosa specialised in the production of wool.

In the 3rd century, the city joined the Province of Apulia and Calabria under Emperor Diocletian. Around this time, the necropolis of Santa Sofia was built, the remains of which were excavated in 1960.

Three centuries later, bishop Sabinus led a huge expansion plan of buildings which helped greatly to form the buildings excavated many years later.

The Palazzo Sinesi, built in the 1890s, is the perfect location for the exhibits. It comprises 8 exhibition halls and a number of cellars used to store archaeological materials, with a total surface area of approximately 700 sqm.