During his tireless research activity, Federico Zeri looked many times towards the ancient world, collecting a range of different items including mosaics, Fayum portraits and sculptures at his house in Mentana.
The bulk of his collection of antiquities is made up of several hundred inscriptions. Though these include some in Greek, the largest proportion consist of hundreds of inscriptions in Latin. Almost always purchased on the antiques market, the origin is only known with certainty in a few cases, though it may be assumed that most of them came to light in Rome, Ostia and elsewhere in Lazio.
|Mentana, Villa Zeri, the lapidarium |
The collection is distinctive not only for its wealth of contents but also for its unique range of different types, making it almost a "manual" of epigraphy. It contains a few rare examples of Republican inscriptions, for example, besides dedications to divinities, emperors, characters from the senatorial and equestrian ranks, and burial monuments of soldiers as well as artisans and ordinary people. There are also Christian inscriptions, stamped bricks and a few examples of epigraphs in the form of odes.