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Museum of Ancient Arles

Exterior of the Musee de l'Arles Antique, Arles, France. The ultra-modern, triangular structure was designed by Henri Ciriani on the site of Arles' enormous Roman circus. The museum opened in 1995. View all images in our Museum of Ancient Arles Photo Gallery.
Marble bust of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, dating from the 1st century BC or 2nd century AD. Found in the Roman theater of Arles in 1823. Inv. 92 00 405. Musee de l'Arles Antique, Arles, France.
Sarcophagus of the Spouses (Sarcophage des Epoux) or Trinity Sarcophagus, dating from the second quarter of the 4th century. The tomb was found in 1974 at Trinquetaille, still sealed and containing…
Adam and Eve, wearing fig leaves and standing next to the Tree of Life bearing the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3). The sheaf of wheat at Adam's feet symbolizes the curse of hard work. Third scene on the…
Sarcophagus of Psyche, from Alyscamps, marble, end of 2nd century. Psyche appears on the right, draped in cloth and with butterfly wings (psyche in Greek means both soul and butterfly). She is…
Roman mosaic depicting Zeus and Europa, late 2nd-early 3rd century AD. Discovered in 1900 in a villa at Trinquetaille. Surrounded by a border of braid and black triangle designs is Europa, daughter of…
Museum gallery along a wall near the Late Antique sarcophagi (seen here) and Roman mosaics (behind the photographer). Musee de l'Arles Antique, Arles, France.
Sculpture of the head of Mithras, limestone, late 2nd-early 3rd century AD. Found in the the Roman circus at Arles. Inv. 92 00 169. Musee de l'Arles Antique, Arles, France.
Ring carved from bone and decorated with a Christogram, 5th century. Musee de l'Arles Antique, Arles, France.
Entrance hall of the Musee de l'Arles Antique, Arles, France.

The sleek, modern Musée de l'Arles Antique (Museum of Ancient Arles), is outside the city center of Arles but well worth the walk for those interested in ancient history. For those with cars, it is exceptionally handy; located right by the freeway and with its own spacious car park.

History

The Musée de l'Arles Antique opened in 1995, replacing and combining the collections of the former Museum of Christian Art and Museum of Pagan Art. The museum's unusual, ultra-modern triangular structure was designed by Henri Ciriani on the site of Arles' enormous Roman circus.

What to See

The museum evokes Arles at the peak of its importance. It encompasses models of ancient monuments, objects from daily life in Roman times, and a variety of religious art ranging from the prehistoric period to the 6th century AD.

Among the displays are one of the world's most famous collections of 4th-century Roman Christian sarcophagi as well as sculptures, mosaics, jewelry and inscriptions. Eleven detailed models show ancient monuments of the region as they existed in the past.

Many of the Christian sarcophagi are from the necropolis of the Alyscamps and the early Christian burial place of St. Genest in the modern suburb of Trinquetaille. Mostly dating from the 4th century AD, the sarcophagi are richly decorated with some of the earliest surviving Christian sculpture, depicting a combination of scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

One of the finest sarcophagi in the Museum of Ancient Arles is that known as the Sarcophagus of the Spouses (Sarcophage des epoux) or Trinity Sarcophagus (Sarcophagus de La Trinite), dating from the early 4th century. It was found in 1974 at Trinquetaille, still sealed, with the remains of a woman around age 50 and a man around 60 with war wounds. The elaborately carved Early Christian sarcophagus depicts the following scenes, all associated with salvation:

Quick Facts on the Museum of Ancient Arles

Site Information
Names:Musée de l'Arles Antique; Musée de l'Arles et de la Provence Antique;; Museum of Ancient Arles
City:Arles
State:Provence
Country:France
Categories:Museums
Feat:Roman Mosaics
Styles:Modern
Dates:1995
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Arles, France
Coordinates:43.672590° N, 4.616404° E  (view on Google Maps)
Website:www.arles-antique.cg13.fr
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of the Museum of Ancient Arles

Below is a location map and aerial view of the Museum of Ancient Arles. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Personal visit (June 29, 2008).
  2. Official website

More Information

Article Info

Title:Museum of Ancient Arles
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:03/29/2010
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/france/arles-museum-of-ancient-arles/france/arles-museum-of-ancient-arles
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