The museum exhibition is divided into three sections (respectively dedicated to the prehistoric and proto-historic age, to the Roman era and to the Late Antique and Medieval period), with an exhibition itinerary including a total of six rooms. The museum holds a considerable number of finds of great historical and archaeological interest, which offer, as a whole, a significant evidence of the continuous human presence in the area of Acqui, providing an overview of the human settlements in the city, from the earliest antiquity until the beginning of the Modern Age.
The first room is dedicated to prehistory, with objects including, among others, a large number of chipped flint artefacts dating back to the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras and axes made of polished serpentinite (the so-called “green stone”) dating from the Neolithic age. The Bronze Age is attested by a large quantity of pottery pieces and especially by bronze tools (spearheads and javelin tips, blades, razors) found in the well-known repository located in Sassello (resin casts of which are displayed).
In the second room, concerning the Iron Age, various materials are exhibited (especially ceramics and metal ornamental objects), items that help to illustrate the indigenous culture of the Liguri Statielli and the process of gradual Romanization of the area, leading to the development of the Roman city. Two fragments of black-varnished ceramics of Etruscan production (dating back to the 3rd century BC) are of particular interest, as they significantly testify the intensive contacts held by these populations with Central Italy.
The following section is dedicated to the Roman era, which is the most important sector of the museum. This part, consisting of three rooms, has been organized by subject: in fact, each room illustrates, through the archaeological materials exhibited, a particular aspect of the ancient Aquae Statiellae. The third room, dedicated to the funerary sphere, houses some of the most significant grave goods coming from many tombs of the Roman period, mostly found along the ancient Via Aemilia Scauri: two of these tombs (the first one, most sumptuous, of the type ” brick chest tomb”, and the second one consisting of a simple stone funerary urn with a protective tile structure) have been faithfully rebuilt, for illustrative purposes, in the middle of the room. The tombs cover a period of several centuries, corresponding to the age of the Roman Empire (1st – 3rd century AD), although there is evidence belonging to a later period (such as a tomb found in the district of Marchiolli and dated back to the 4th century AD). The monumental appearance of the urban necropolis is instead documented by remarkable steles and gravestones that served as a tomb sign: among them, the C. Mettius stone, very well-known and richly decorated, in which the young deceased is portrayed together with his parents, is particularly noteworthy.
The next room is dedicated to the urban planning and to the architecture of the ancient Aquae Statiellae. In the middle, the room houses a reproduction of the big fountain “Bollente” from the Roman era, made of blocks of white marble, which came to light at the end of the 19th century in the area of today’s square. Moreover, here, there is an exhibition of materials from various excavations carried out in the city and pertaining to ancient public buildings (the building in Via Aureliano Galeazzo; the Roman pool in Corso Bagni) and to private dwellings: they consist of architectural decorations (capitals, antefixes, frames) made of marble, limestone and terracotta, sculptures, marble furnishings, frescoes. It’s also important to mention a large portion of the mosaic floor, with a dedicatory inscription and the rich ornamental articles of two tombs, discovered in via Alessandria, including, in addition to elegant ceramic and glass containers, four silvered bronze strigils and a rhyton – a characteristic glass “drinking horn”: all artefacts whose function is directly related to the spa sphere, typical of the city.
The following room, instead, illustrates the many aspects of trade and production in the ancient city. A selection of the dozens of amphorae, reused in an ancient drainage system, which came to light in via Gramsci, testifies to the intensive trade that, through the port of Savona, involved Aquae Statiellae. A rich variety of commonly used ceramic products comes instead from the excavation of the house – workshop in via Cassino (located in the suburbs of the Roman settlement): pots, pans, plates, cups and jugs, mass-produced and definitely intended for local business. All of these articles, together with other finds of particular interest, such as moulds for lamps and loom weights, give significant evidence of the craft activities existing in the Roman city.
The last room of the museum is dedicated to the Late Antique and Medieval periods. It holds the exhibition of the funerary inscription of a Christian magistrate (dating back to the early 5th century AD), two grave equipments of the Lombard period, coming from the immediate surroundings of the city, and a selection of ceramics from the Middle Ages (13th – 14th century), found during various excavations carried out, in recent years, in the old centre of Acqui Terme.
The continuous human settlement around the thermal spring is finally proved by the abundant tableware, from the Renaissance period, found during the excavations carried out in the square Piazza della Bollente, whose exhibition closes the tour of the museum.