SAN MARINO: Domagnano Treasure

The Domagnano Treasure hoard is both a stunning medieval treasure, and another example of how a nation can lose control of its historic artifacts into the museum and private collection system.

The Domagnano Treasure is an Ostrogothic treasure hoard from the 5th century, discovered in the region of Domagnano in San Marino in the 1890s. It’s likely that it came from the short-lived Ostrogothic Kingdom that arose after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, then was crushed less than a century later by the Byzantines. The hoard is about 22 pieces of solid gold, set with precious stones and enamel, and would have been a jewellery set of a noble woman – not surprising since the Kingdom’s capital was in nearby Ravenna. There’s pendants, earrings, a hairpin and knife sheathes – most stunning are the two eagle fibula (brooches that were used to pin cloaks closed).

Reproductions of the Treasure in San Marino’s State Museum – Source: European Nomad

Unfortunately, the hoard was dispersed shortly after discovery to museums and private collections – with the majority ending up in either the British Museum or the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, leaving San Marino with only one single piece, a small mount.

The only original piece in San Marino’s hands – Source: European Nomad

With Expo 2020 now on in Dubai, San Marino is making the Domagnano Treasure a key piece of their pavilion. However, it seems the nation was unable to get the other original pieces loaned back to them, so on display are high-quality reproductions. I can’t seem to find any sign that all the real pieces of the hoard have ever been re-assembled even for temporary display, so to see every original piece, you’ve got to go to five museums on three continents!

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