Guarnacci, Mario

Date born: 1701

Place born: Volterra, Italy

Date died: 1785

Place died: Volterra, Itasly

Historian of Etruscans including their art; early excavator of Etruscan tombs. Guarnacci was born to a wealthy, noble family. In 1726 he moved to Rome to participate as a cleric in the church. Returning to his native Volterra on holidays, he began excavating the recently discovered Etruscan tombs. He did so with this two brothers, Piero and Giovanni Guarnacci. Their first excavation in 1738 resulted in the discovery of ten vases. He and his friend and colleague Antonio Francesco Gori (1691-1757) developed an acumen for discerning forgeries, of which there were many during this time and even a few in Guarnacci’s own collection. An excellent scholar, he was advanced by both Pope Clement XII and Benedict XIV. Guarnacci retired to Volterra in 1757. In 1761 he willed his extensive library and his collection (which he called his “museum’) to the city of Volterra, today known as the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci in his honor.

Home Country: Italy

Sources: Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, p. 546

Bibliography: Origini italiche, o siano memorie istorico-etrusche: sopra l'antichissimo regno d'Italia e sopra i di lei primi abitatori nei secoli piu remoti. 3 vols. Lucca: Appresso Leonardo Venturini, 1767-72..