Etruscan tombs discovered in Italy

This is a video about the Etruscan necropolis of Cerveteri.

From ANSA news agency in Italy:

Etruscan tombs found

‘Most exciting discovery in decades’ at famed Tarquinia site

Tarquinia, May 6 – Italian archaeologists have found more than two dozen new tombs at the famed Etruscan burial grounds at Tarquinia north of Rome.

”This is the most exciting discovery here in decades,” said the archeological superintendent for southern Etruria, Maria Tecla Castaldi.

So far 27 tombs have been added to the thousands at the site since a chance discovery during building work two months ago, she said.

”I’ve just been down and visited the only tomb that is open, which was probably broken into around 50 years ago,” she said.

”The other tombs are sealed and presumably intact”.

Police have cordoned off the area, less than half a mile (500m) from the main necropolis, to ward off tomb raiders as digs go on. The well-preserved tombs at Tarquinia and nearby Cerveteri have been described by some experts as ‘cities of the dead’. Experts believe the Etruscans wanted their deceased to have everything they might need easily to hand in the afterlife, and so crammed the tombs with everyday objects.

Archaeologists say women were buried in stone tombs separate from the men and that slaves were cremated and their ashes placed in urns besides their masters’ remains.

The general span of the graves stretches from the seventh to the first century BC.

Excavations first began on the Tarquinia site in 1489 and since then over 6,000 tombs have been uncovered.

The Tarquinia tombs also have wall paintings, some probably dating back to the eighth century BC, depicting scenes from the lives of the dead.

Video about the necropolis of Cerveteri: here.

Etruscologist Bouke van der Meer, here.

3 thoughts on “Etruscan tombs discovered in Italy

  1. 2008-07-08 12:09
    Etruscan tomb unearthed in Perugia
    Site discovered during construction of a road junction
    (ANSA) – Perugia, July 8 – An ancient Etruscan tomb has resurfaced after centuries underground during the course of building work in the central Italian city of Perugia.

    The tomb, which has been preserved in excellent condition, contains seven funerary urns, the municipal archaeology department said. It is in the shape of a square and was covered by a sheet of travertine marble, which had apparently remained untouched since being laid centuries ago. The tomb is split into two halves by a pillar and there are two benches running along each side. The funerary urns, which were placed on the benches, were marked with brightly coloured mythological and religious motifs. A preliminary study suggests that writing on the side of the urns probably refers to a family that was called the Aneis. In addition to the urns, the tomb also housed the remains of a bronze bed and various pottery shards. The site was discovered during digging work for a new roundabout in the Strassacapponi neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Umbrian town.

    The Etruscans are believed to have formed the first advanced civilisation in Italy, based in an area called Etruria, corresponding largely to present-day Tuscany, Umbria and northern Lazio.

    By the sixth century BC they had become the dominant force in central Italy, but repeated attacks from Gauls and Syracusans later forced them into an alliance with the embryonic Roman state, which gradually absorbed Etruscan civilization.

    Although the Etruscans had the upper hand in the early days and supplied Rome with the last three of its first seven kings including the famous Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud), the archaeological record of their once sweeping presence in central Italy is scanty compared with that of other civilisations.

    Some historians have posited that the Romans actively tried to wipe out the traces of their predecessors, whose sensual and fun-loving approach to life contrasted with the spartan, austere and rigidly patriarchal life of the early Roman republic.

    Most of what we know about their civilisation is based largely on archaeological finds, since much of their language has yet to be deciphered.


  2. Etruscan home ‘unique discovery’

    Archaeologists hail find of beautifully preserved house

    31 May, 18:49

    (ANSA) – Grosseto, May 31 – Archaeologists have unearthed a beautifully preserved Etruscan house in western Italy in the first ever discovery of its kind. The 2,400-year-old building, uncovered at the archaeological site of Vetulonia near the Tuscan coast, is one of only a handful of Etruscan homes ever found. Nearly everything known about Etruscans has come from their extensive network of tombs. The remarkable condition of the house makes the discovery even more exceptional, say experts.

    “These are the best remains ever found in Italy of an Etruscan home,” explained Vetulonia Archaeological Museum Director Simona Rafanelli. “It is the only case of its kind in Italy. What we have found will enable us to reconstruct the house in its entirety.

    “It offers a wealth of interesting new evidence”.

    Following an initial excavation of two weeks, the archaeological team revealed details of the earliest discoveries.

    The building’s walls were made of blocks of dried clay, the first ever example of Etruscan-made brick, said Rafanelli. Clay plaster was also found, along with a door handle and the remains of bronze furniture. Of particular interest is the basement of the house. Built of drystone this was apparently used as a cellar for storing food supplies. A massive pitcher which stood in the corner of the main room was used to hold grain.

    Other finds include the original flooring of the house, made of crushed earthenware plaster, along with remains of vases, amphorae and plates painted black.

    A large quantity of metal nails in the house, along with their placements, indicates the main room might have once contained a kind of mezzanine level built from wooden beams. Six Roman and Etruscan coins discovered on a small alter inside the structure suggest it collapsed in 79 BC, during a period of war sparked by the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla.

    Experts believe the building, which was used both as a home and for commercial activity, belonged to a wealthy and influential family at the time of its collapse. The variety of styles discovered so far indicates it was extended and renovated several times during its three centuries of existence. “The building was part of the ancient town of Vetulonia and is much older than other sections of the town uncovered so far,” said Rafanelli. “We also want to work towards transforming this building into an open air museum,” she added, promising the excavations would continue.


  3. Pingback: Roman mosaic discovery in Italy | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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