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The togado de Pompelo and the archaeological research in Navarre


Published in

Diario de Navarra

Javier Andreu Pintado

Full Professor of Ancient History and director of Diploma in Archeology

With B joy we have received in our land the news of the acquisition, on the part of the Government of Navarre, of the togado de Pompelo, a beautiful bronze statue of the II century A.D. -and unique in Roman Hispania- coming from Navarrería Street. It is the only one of its kind in Roman Hispania. It came from Navarrería Street and, due to various vicissitudes, after its finding in 1895, it ended up in a private collection in Manhattan.

Now it will be a year since the court, then on temporary loan, arrived in Pamplona to be exhibited in the Museum of Navarre where it can be visited. If authentic floods of people paid homage in December, in the planetarium of Pamplona, to the hand of Irulegi, the court deserves as much, or even more, historical veneration.

And it deserves it because in Navarre, yes, we were Basques -also Celtiberians and Iberians- but, essentially, between the 2nd century B.C. and the 5th century A.D., we were Romans, being Rome, in fact, the one that contributed to reinforce and draw those identities that nowadays, sometimes, are used for very different purposes from those with which Rome created or promoted them. In the words of the Greek geographer Strabo, Rome's great achievement was to create a "common house" in the Mediterranean, in which everyone felt proudly represented. And the success of that formula was based on the adoption by local populations of symbols of Romanity.

According to the Roman encyclopedist Pliny the Elder, for a local B of the time to have a statue in some public place in his city, especially in the forum, was the "most human of ambitions". The togado of Pompellus and the togado in Carrara marble of Santa Cruz de Eslava -which can be visited in Eslava-, although separated by almost 100 years -the second one being older-, are a good sample of those symbols that made us -and still make us today- Romans. Expert archaeologists from all over the world will be able to study both robes in Pamplona, in an international meeting on Roman sculpture that the School of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Navarra has organized for the autumn of 2024.

But if the togado de Pompelo is an icon of the Romanization of Navarra, it is also a clear allegory of the service that the good archaeological research can provide to society. The hitherto owner of the togado read a article by Luis Romero, researcher of the University of Navarra, published in Cuadernos de Arqueología, the journal of department of History of the academic center. After the then anonymous and unknown collector contacted him at contact , Romero informed the Navarre Museum Service. From there, negotiations began that have culminated in the purchase of a piece of pride for all Navarrese.

After its acquisition by the public administration, the Pompelo togado can serve as a reminder that the way to a fruitful archaeological research lies in the public-private partnership which, once again - it has almost always - has had a happy ending.