Cayetano Mergelina y Luna (Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz, 9 June 1890 – Yecla, Murcia, 14 April 1962) studied Philosophy & Letters at the Central University in Madrid, where he obtained his PhD in 1920. He spent most of his career as a university professor and field archaeologiest, obtaining the chairs in Archaeology, Numismatics and Epigraphy at the University of Valladolid and then the Art History chair at the University of Murcia (1952).
His relationship with the National Archaeological Museum began with the outbreak of the Civil War, which found him in Yecla (Murcia), where he had gone to conduct excavations at Cabecico del Tesoro. Mergelina travelled to Madrid in October 1936 to meet with the dean of the Faculty of Philosophy & Letters, and in December of that same year he was posted to the newly created Corps of Assistant Technicians for the Confiscation, Protection and Rescue of Art Treasures.Salto de línea Salto de línea As an assistant technician, he was placed in charge of cataloguing, filing and inventorying the artworks. In February 1937 the Delegate Board, which had an office at the National Archaeological Museum, commissioned him and Felipa Niño, one of the curators, to re-organise and protect the museum. Niño was evacuated to Valencia in October and Mergelina became the museum’s acting director.
During his mandate, the National Archaeological Museum was one of the three major repositories, along with the Prado Museum and the Church of San Francisco, used by the Delegate Board. It mainly received industrial artworks (fabrics, porcelain, pottery, ivory, gold and silver work, etc.), which were placed in the old Roman, Egyptian and Hispano-Moresque pottery galleries. These subsequently had to be enlarged to store and protect the treasures from the air raids suffered by Madrid.
When the Civil War ended in April 1939, Mergelina resigned from his post and Blas Taracena Aguirre became the new museum director. Salto de línea