No man is an island

John Donne

Right at the end of the central and suggestive Via Roma, in Lampedusa, there is a door by which to cross time and space. It is not a simple museum, or rather two, but a crossing, a passage.

After the renovation of the building, which took place in the nineties, an archaeological museum tells the story of the Pelagie islands, the archipelago formed by the islands of Lampedusa, Linosa and Lampione. A wide selection of findings, displayed in a chronological path, leads the visitor among the artifacts from the Neolithic to the Roman era. Findings that tell the millennial history of a place that has always welcomed stories and people.

The vicissitudes of the peopling of the Pelagie islands are featured by a marked character of discontinuity, which is appreciated since the distant prehistory and crosses all historical periods until modern times. The geographical position at the centre of the Mediterranean has always given the islands a strategic importance as a point of landing along the routes traced by maritime traffic, but the isolation and scarcity of resources make it difficult to develop a stable settlement.

For each phase of life, which archaeological research has been able to ascertain on the islands and which is documented in this Museum, the lasting presence of a community always finds a strong motivation in the wider background of the events that affect the Mediterranean basin more generally, whether it is the transmarine contacts aimed at the supply of raw materials in prehistory, whether the settlement is linked to the industrial exploitation of the resources of the sea as in the Roman imperial age, two thousand years ago, or to the voluntary exile at the edge of the Vandal kingdom of a group of individuals in full political-religious disagreement with the central power as it happens in late antiquity, about 1500 years ago.

The finds of the ancient fish processing in Roman times testify to the indissoluble bond between the sea and the people of Lampedusa, just as the finds of the early Christian catacomb of Cala Palme or of the Goddess Fortune tell of how faiths and traditions, on the island, found a home. Since 2016, the second floor is dedicated to migrations. Those of yesterday and those of today, those that pass through Lampedusa and other borders of Europe, in a story that at the same time keeps memory and bears witness to the humanity of migrants. Objects, which may seem insignificant, are pieces of a mosaic of humanity that tells of dreams, hopes and courage. Alongside the objects, there is a permanent exhibition – which flanks the temporary ones – multimedia and immersive that, for once, helps visitors to place themselves from the point of view of migrants and rescuers.

Yesterday and today, past and present, meet in the two floors of the museum, decorated by a mural on the facade visible from the sea, created by Rosk&Loste, representing a mermaid and the sea. A museum that is not immobile, but moves, standing still, in a journey through time and space.

Podcast: History of Lampedusa - 3^ episode

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