The displayed collection presents
over 200 stone monuments with Roman Latin inscriptions, full of information on
the monuments and the Roman period on Slovenian territory.
The National Museum of Slovenia also has a beautiful lapidarium amongst
its holdings. The stone monuments are mostly from Emona and Ižanski kot, but
also fromTrojane, Zasavje and Dolenjska, given that the museum was the only
scientific and cultural institution of the Carniolan region for several
decades. The Latin word lapis means stone, the lapidarium is therefore a place
where stone monuments are stored.
The formation of the Lapidarium
The formation of the lapidarium is
closely tied to the history of the museum, which was established in 1821. Count
Franz Hohenwart arranged the first epigraphic collection in the Lyceum
building, where the museum was first arranged, and it is legitimate to regard
it as the founder of the museum lapidarium. When an annexe was added to the
museum building during the time of director Karel Dežman, the Roman stone
monuments also found their place in the ground floor and basement corridors,
which were embedded into the walls of the ground floor corridor in a disorderly
manner due to a lack of space.
Roman stone monument with inscription – a first-rate historical document
In the absence of other written
sources from the same period, every Roman stone inscription is a first-rate
historical document of its time. Ancient inscriptions are therefore the most
important source for studying the political, military, social and economic
history of the present-day territory of Slovenia and exploring the ways in
which the Roman Empire was organised. By studying the inscriptions, it is
possible, for example, to identify migrations within the Roman Empire,
reconstruct the administrative hierarchy, family relations, and in such a way build
up an image of Roman society. Numerous inscriptions illuminate the career of
individual military personnel, senators, state and city officials, and often
mention or even describe in detail the events of Roman history, about which
other sources remain silent. On some inscriptions, the exact dates of the
construction of certain public buildings are mentioned directly or indirectly.
Ancient inscriptions enable personal names to be studied, as well as people who
hide behind these names (this is investigated by a study called prosopography).
The inscriptions also provide an insight into the Roman rulers and gods. They also
inform us about the police, education, health care, about the life span of the
people and the causes of death. Milestones inform us about the structure of the
public road network, and the sarcophagi and urns about the way burials were
conducted in various periods. And we could continue counting.
As these are often physically very
heavy monuments, it is difficult to move and dismantle them. The stone
monuments had to be removed from the walls. This revealed some unknown
ornamental motifs and depictions. The monuments had to be cleaned, conserved,
sometimes also consolidated and assembled. Analyses of the stones were made to
find out more about the material used in the production of the monuments. All
the monuments were then evaluated by an epigraphy expert, who transcribed,
dated and commented on the Roman lapidarium inscriptions. The first corpus of
all Roman stone monuments of the National Museum of Slovenia was published in
the Situla monograph series, thus setting the standard for the further
publication of Roman monuments in Slovenia, as an important segment of the
movable heritage of the Roman period. A guide to the Roman lapidarium was also published,
elucidating the narratives of the inscriptions to the non-expert public in
simple terms. We also issued a guidebook or workbook for young people. Since
the texts on the monuments speak about all the layers of Roman society,
electronic information on almost all segments of the Roman period on Slovenian
territory is available to visitors.
Preservation, storage and presentation of movable cultural heritage to the public
The demanding project reflects our attitude towards cultural heritage.
This is the most important mission of the national museum – to preserve, store
and present the movable cultural heritage to the public, through which it also
educates the public. It must be admitted that the project, with interruptions,
has lasted for a decade, nevertheless it still reflects the motto of Emperor
Augustus from the beginning of the 1st century AD, this being Festina lente – a goal can be achieved
only through slow, deliberate action, with knowledge and dedication.
More than 200 Roman stone monuments tell visitors about the Slovenian
territory in the Roman period from the 1st to the 4th century on the ground
floor of the building and in the glass pavilion in the garden of the National
Museum of Slovenia.
A guide to the lapidarium by Marjeta Šašel Kos,
PhD was also published to accompany the exhibition.