Amedeo Maiuri: Herculaneum, archaeology and fascist propaganda

Brian Brennan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Amedeo Maiuri (1886-1963) is rightly considered one of the greatest Italian archaeologists of the twentieth century and his scientific archaeological work at Herculaneum has been much studied. Yet while Maiuri's work flourished under the patronage of Mussolini's fascist regime, the nature of his relationship with the party has received less attention. This paper, based both on archival sources and Maiuri's published writings, investigates Maiuri's politically committed response through archaeology, both to the ideological and the propaganda needs of the fascist regime. It is argued here that Maiuri's writings as well as his museological practice in the reconstruction of Herculaneum as a 'resurrected' and 'living' Roman town, represent an attempt to further develop the affective aspect of the fascist doctrine of romanita. Maiuri, drawn to the 'action not words' of fascism, provided the regime's propaganda with an inspiring example of what willpower, hard work and modern machines could achieve in the archaeology of the 'New Italy.'

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalBulletin of the History of Archaeology
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2020

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