Můvészet és Kultúra

Paleobotany and Ethnobotany Museum


The Museum of Paleobotany and Ethnobotany occupies some of the rooms of the 17th century building called the Castle, situated inside the Royal Botanical Gardens of Naples.
The entrance and the first two rooms are dedicated to Paleobotany.
The focal element of this section is a two and a half metre three dimensional phylogenetic tree, which illustrates the appearance and evolution of the main groups of terrestrial plants from the Siluriano (435 million years ago) to today.
Every branch corresponds to an order, and the colours correspond to the classes.
The extinction of a group is represented by the end of a branch.
A series of displays describe the various groups that are represented on the phylogenetic tree with the auxiliary help of fossil remains of plants, accompanied by labels text and graphic reconstructions.
The descriptions of the ancient vascular plants include the reconstruction of vegetative forms without leaves of roots.
Other displays describe the lycopods, equiseti, ferns, progymnosperms, conifers, bennettitee, cicadee, pteridosperms and angiosperms.
A series of clay models illustrates the various phases of evolution of the seed, and other sector describes Paleopalinology (the study of pollen fossils) and Paleoclimatology (the study of the relationship between leaf forms and climatic characteristics).
Three other rooms of the Castle are dedicated to Ethnobotany and objects from the Philippines, Borneo, Sumatra, the Amazon and Mexico are displayed according to themes that are inspired by the daily activities of the indigenous populations of these areas.
The handcrafts are accompanied by explicative texts, labels and, where available, primary material and photographs which illustrate the plants in their natural habitats, the way they are worked, and their food or therapeutic uses, healing rituals of the preparation of vegetable poisons.
A number of display cases are dedicated to objects from the Philippines, such as violins with the body made out of a single block of wood with the inside carved out, and strings made out of twisted hair.
Included among the personal objects there are bamboo containers called lukà containing a stimulating tonic mix for chewing that is made from the leaves of the Nicotiana tabacum, Piper betel and the seeds of the Areca catechu palm containing alkaloids and calcinated shell powder.
The display case of Palawan population hosts hunting objects such as wooden spears made of Diospyros wood, and containers for holding tobacco, made of Pandanus fibres.
A typical object from Sumatra, is a canoe of Shorea wood with its fishing equipment, and typical of Borneo are objects such as the fetiches used for diagnostic and healing rituals made of Oncosperma orridum (Arecaceae) wood.
The Mexican display is testimony to the uses of agaves for food and the construction of handicrafts such as purses, fans, hammocks and other domestic objects.
Representing the Amazon there are two important cultivations: the guarana ( Paullinia cupana) who seeds are used as a coffee substitute, containing 3-5% of caffeine, and the manioca (manihot esculenta) whose tubers are used to make flour.
There are also weapons used for hunting such as arrows poisoned with curaro, a strong poison of vegetable origin that causes the immobilisation and sudden death of the animal, which nevertheless remains edible, because of the gastric absorption of the poison is minimal.
The section of Ehnobotany is constantly growing due to continuing research in this field.
This Museum represents an ideal place for students who wish to deepen their knowledge of this subject, but it is also certainly very interesting for those who, through their curiosity, populations who have often anticipated healing techniques and manufacturing constructions simply through the utilisation of natures resources according to their instincts of survival. (Carmen Greco)

Address
Naples, Via Foria 223

Times
All days from 9.00 to 14.00
Saturday and Sunday closed

Prices
Free Entrance

How you can get there from the Hotel
From the Piazza Amedeo Station take line 2 on the subway, in the direction of Gianturco, and get off in Piazza Cavour (second stop); proceed on foot for about 300 metres in the direction of Piazza Carlo III: the Paleobotany and Ethnobotany Museumis inside the Royal Botanical Gardens is in Via Foria 223.


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