About the permanent exhibition
Beginnings of long and turbulent history of the Archaeological Collection of Osor reach back to the 18th century and are related to Dinaričić, the Bishop of Osor who, according to the records by Alberto Fortis from 1771, acquired the first collection of stone monuments in the Bishop’s Palace in Osor. A hundred years later, the collecting passion of Bishop Dinaričić continued with Ivan Kvirin Bolmarčić, a parish priest. As an amateur archaeologist, he undertook the first archaeological explorations in Osor in the period from 1874 to 1881, researching the city walls and the Illiric-Roman necropolis on the Lošinj side of the Kavuada channel, eventually acquiring a respectable archaeological collection which consisted of several thousand items in 1880. In 1889, the archaeological collection of the parish priest Bolmarčić became the property of the Municipality of Osor. It moved into the building of the Osor City Hall and was officially opened to public. The Archaeological collection of Osor has been the oldest museum institution on the islands of Cres and Lošinj and one of the oldest archaeological collections in Croatia in general.
From 2007, after numerous changes of status, neglect, and restoration, the Archaeological collection of Osor functions as an independent department of the newly established Lošinj Museum. The archaeological material on display follows the everyday life in Osor and the surrounding area spanning prehistoric, ancient, and medieval times. Different types of human production are presented - from ceramics and glass to items made of metal, from stone relief plastic and sculptures to numismatics.
The Roman symbol of faith, commonly known as “Credo”, originated in the first Christian communities in Rome as a brief text which was intended for served for the Catechumens, who were individuals preparing to be baptized in the Church, to learn it by heart and recite it in public on the eve of the baptism. The text was not allowed to be written down until the end of the 5th century because it was considered a top strict religious secret. Osor “Credo”, unique in the world, is the oldest preserved inscription of the Christian faith carved in stone, dating from the 5th to the 6th century. The two fragments, rather humble in appearance, are the remains of the old-time stone tablet that was used as a reminder for the Catechumens in the first St. Mary’s Cathedral in Osor; therefore, they are of great importance for the history of the early Christianity.
Collection of Roman republican coins
The Collection of Roman republican coins in Osor experienced a peculiar and rare fate to be discovered twice. The first time an old peasant from Osor discovered it by accident in 1889. He dug up about 500 Roman silver coins in a metal container with a lid. He kept most of the coins for himself and distributed a few to his friends. Fortunately for science, 475 coins were saved and they were examined by Francesco Salata., a historian born in Osor who made his findings public the very year. The Osor Collection consisted of 212 most interesting and most valuable coins, others were sold by the owner. The coins were probably buried during the turbulent times of the Roman conquest of this area in the 1st century BC. During the Second World War people from Osor hid their treasure again. The Collection was considered lost for decades until 1971, when Osor parish priest received a letter from Italy which revealed the location of a hiding place. Thereby, this treasure has become a part of the Archaeological Collection of Osor once again.
The portrait of Octavian
One of the three portrait heads of emperors which are kept in the Archaeological Collection of Osor presents Octavian, the first Roman emperor, at the time before he was proclaimed Augustus (the Exalted) in 27 BC. It is an “Actium type” of a portrait, because it was made after the famous naval battle at Actium in 31 BC, when Octavian defeated Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. It is also one of the few preserved Octavian’s portraits that show him with his head veiled. In the time when the portrait was made there was probably a great number of Roman citizens in Osor who were Octavian’s supporters and possibly his assistants in a the war against Marc Anthony. The portrait of Octavian in Osor is the earliest representation of a Roman emperor and one of the earliest Roman sculptures ever found on the eastern Adriatic coast so far.