“Rubbish heaps” are the equivalent of treasure troves for archaeologists, with pottery providing chronological markers and also evidence for local and imported wares. The “butto” of Palazzo Altemps in fact contained materials from the second half of the 14th through the early 17th centuries. Palazzo Altemps takes its name from the latinization of the surname of the Austrian Cardinal Hoenemps who in 1568 acquired the Renaissance building constructed c. 1477 for Girolamo Riario, the nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, incorporating earlier Medieval buildings.
Excavations revealing earlier levels of the building are visible in one room on the ground floor. Finds from the rubbish heap are displayed in a series of cases. The first display case contains local Roman wares of the second half of the 15th-early 16th centuries including apothecary jars, tankards, bowls and plates mostly decorated with the coats of arms of family who lived in the area (N.b.: the column of the Colonna family). Local and imported wares fill the next display case: apothecary jars associated with Iacomo Vesellario a Ripa Granni (c. 1593), tankards with “belle donne”, bowls with village scenes from a Roman workshop of a potter from Romagna, light blue Ligurian bowls and a series of plates with the Altemps coat of arms. The final display case contains 16th century pottery from Umbria, Tuscany and Rome. The plates on the top shelf with “belle donne” (beautiful women were probably wedding plates whereas the large central plate shows scene from a late 15th-century poem and the plate below is lusterware.