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La ‘collezione Fagan’, le sculture di Tindari e la nascita del Museo dell’Università di Palermo


The purchase of the “Fagan’s marbles” (1819) was a turning point in the birth of the Archaeological Museum of Palermo (Museo dell’Università) not so much because of its intrinsic value, but because the debate fostered in Sicily by the “Fagan affair” articulated the need for a more effective system for preservation of cultural heritage. A systematic review of the archival documents and 19th century literature, and of the statues and inscriptions said to be from the Fagan collection, from Fagan’s own excavations at Tyndaris (1809), and generically from Tyndaris, allows to identify the ancient marbles found in Tyndaris both by Fagan and in other circumstances (later scattered and confused), and their findspot. It is a large ensemble of Roman statues (many of which in a fragmentary state) and honorary inscriptions, some of which already known in 18th century and moved between 1815-1820 to the new Museo dell’Università, that in the same time received also the “Fagan’s marbles”. These latter are all of the same origin (except for five reliefs from Greece, among which is a fragment of the Parthenon frieze), like a few pieces collected by the Barone Sciacca della Scala at Tyndaris, and others which were found there near the “Basilica” in mid 20th century excavations (stored in the local Antiquarium). The ancient reports, and especially the short report written by R. Fagan himself, confirm that the sculptures and the inscriptions were, indeed, discovered in the porticoed complex adjoining the “Basilica” (probably functioning as a monumental entrance hall) where an imperial statue group was displayed, the largest known so far from Sicily.