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The excavation of the ruins and the reconstruction work will bring to light enormous quantities of ceramics, which will end up encouraging quite a lot of commercial trade, supported by the interest of collectors. Galeazzo Cora was such a collector and, as far back as 1961, he was aware of having collected a huge amount of material, enough to be able to prove the importance of the ceramic production in Montelupo. He had enthusiastically supported the proposal of the local administration to construct a School of Ceramics, as an extension of the Museum. Unfortunately, even this opportunity was lost.
In 1973, during the repaving of an ancient street in the grounds of the castle of Montelupo, in the oldest part of the historic centre, an ancient well was discovered underneath some old public washhouses. The Washhouse Well, as it was immediately christened, revealed an amazing archaeological deposit. Once it fell into disuse it had in fact been turned into a waste site by a variety of local furnaces, using the area to discard the refuse from their own labours. Unintentionally, the ceramicists of Montelupo had thereby created an extremely useful stratigraphy, which would make it possible to reconstruct some of the events of our centre of production in the sixteenth century.
In addition, right around that same time, in that inauspicious year of 1973, Galeazzo Cora published his monumental history of the majolica of Florence and the vicinity, in which he published documents and evidence, from which it became very clear that Montelupo played a pivotal part in the production of ceramics at the end of the fourteenth century, a role which, up until then, had been ignored by a large part of the scholarly population.
The discovery of the Well was followed, between 1975 and 1976, by systematic research, conducted by the Archaeological Superintendent of Tuscany who produced, thanks to a diligent campaign of restoration work carried out on the newly discovered materials, about 300 examples of ceramics, the majority of which had been discards.
In 1977, with the first display of these newly discovered and restored pieces from the Washhouse Well, the importance of Montelupo finally came to light as a primary centre for the production of Italian and European ceramics.
That was the pioneering period of Montelupo’s archaeology, along with the development of the Archaeological Group of Montelupo, a team of volunteers, which became more and more extensive and specialized.
The research, which began with the Well, spread to the whole urban area of Montelupo, recovering and restoring material, which would lead to the reconstruction of ceramics activity from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century. >>