By Björn Schöpe for CoinsWeekly.com (MünzenWoche.de) ……
[UPDATE, 4/16/2020: “The Coins of Elea/Velia” was declared the winning project, receiving the highest number of votes – 3,245 out of a total of 31,250 – both from the website and on social media. Thank you to everyone who voted! —CoinWeek]
The responsibility for the preservation of cultural heritage lies with the state, the institutions do not let anybody else interfere with this matter. But what happens if the state does not fulfill this task because it does not dispose of the means necessary in order to do so?
In Salerno, a city in the South of Italy, thousands of coins were about to stay locked up in storerooms – unrestored and uncatalogued. We would have lost an important source that tells the story of the ancient city of Elea (near modern Velia). But then everything changed because it was possible to raise external funds.
Vote in the Art Bonus Competition
That is why this project, which deals with the coins from Elea/Velia, can participate in the Art Bonus competition–the first numismatic project ever to do so! Art Bonus is a competition organized by the Italian Ministry for Culture and Tourism and only projects that are receiving private funding can apply. The patrons of these cultural projects benefit from significant tax advantages, and the projects certainly are being promoted thanks to the competition. A winner is chosen each year, with the votes given to every project–on the website, on Instagram, and on Facebook–determining the results.
Everybody can vote once on each platform; therefore, each project can get up to three votes by one person. The competition runs until January 7, 2020.
Vote for the numismatic project on the website of Art Bonus.
Coins Tell the Story
Around 535 BCE, Greeks from Phokaia (or Phocaea) settled for the first time at the Gulf of Salerno. Elea was to become one of the most important cities of Magna Graecia – especially for the school of philosophy of the group that came to be known as the Eleatics. The best-known representatives are Parmenides and Zeno (of paradox fame).
The Eleatics also minted coins, doing so for about 1,000 years until late antiquity. Approximately 10,000 coins were recovered during archaeological excavations.
For the First Time Ever
These 10,000 coins, which are part of the long history of Elea/Velia, had been kept in storerooms for a long time. The state would not have been able to finance their restoration in the foreseeable future. Thus, the Superintendent for the Archaeological Heritage of Salerno and Avellino and the University of Salerno – successfully – approached a private institution that supports cultural projects, the Fondazione Nazionale delle Communicazioni in Rome, in order to raise funds for the restoration project. According to the organizers of the project, it is the first time ever that such a numismatic project has received private funding in Italy.
On the one hand, the coins are to be used by museums and digital channels to arouse the visitor’s enthusiasm for ancient history and for the stories of the town by means of storytelling. On the other hand, the researchers hope that the students and young researchers entrusted with the restoration and identification of the coins will get enthusiastic about numismatics and find their first job with this activity. Therefore, they hope that the project will be an investment in the professional future of the country.
On the same website, you can find out more about Art Bonus and the competition (in Italian but your browser should be able to translate it).
For information about the project’s patron, visit the website of the Fondazione Nazionale delle Communicazioni (also in Italian).
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Originally published October 16, 2019 on CoinsWeekly.com