Taormina The Antiquarium is a small archeological museum on show in two rooms of the Antique Theatre guardian’s house, once called the House of the Englishmen because it was supposedly inhabited by English families during the first days of tourism in Taormina.
Few archaeological specimens remain in this house-museum since most of them are now in Naples, Messina and Siracusa. One of the most interesting things is a large square block of Taormina marble, formerly the base of a statue.
On the front of this base an inscription reads “The Tauromenitani (the Taormina people) dedicate this statue to Olympio, winner of the horse race in the games at Olympia”, evidence that Taormina had a winner at the Olympic Games.
This statue base was found in 1770 while extension work was being carried out in the “S. Maria del Valverde” monastery, which is now a Carabineri post in Vittorio Emanuele (Badia) square.
Another statue base in Taormina marble, according to the inscription on it, was dedicated to Caius Claudius Marcellus, Propraetor of Sicily in the year 77 B.C. A 1.75 metre pillar in Taormina marble, discovered in 1864, is called the “Tavola degli Strateghi” (Table of the Strategists), a slab engraved with the names of the strategists, who were not soldiers but those in charge of administering justice in Taormina.
Another pillar, in Taormina The Antiquarium, is the “Tavola dei Ginnasiarchi” (Table of the Gymnasiarchs), magistrates in charge of the Gymnasium where the young men were educated psychologically and physically. There is also an interesting small oval sarcophagus in marble, probably made for a child. lt is sculpted externally in high-relief with Baccanal scenes involving children.
The sarcophagus was discovered in 1839 in the gardens of what was then a Franciscan Friary, now a nursing home run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Some stone bricks can also be seen, the top surfaces of which are lapped and engraved with financial statements of the Polis. These were found in 1833 at the base of the Greek-Roman Theatre.
Therefore, in Taormina, as in Rome and Athens, documents related to the political, civil and financial system of the town were conserved “for eternity” as they were engraved on stone.