Etruscan Square Tomb, Cerveteri

Etruscan Square Tomb, Cerveteri

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Cerveteri Etruscan Necropolis

Cerveteri town famous for the site of the ancient Etruscan city which was one of the most important Etruscan cities with an area more than 15 times larger than today&aposs town. It was one of the city-states of the Etruscan League and at its height, around 600 BC, its population was perhaps around 25,000 - 40,000 people.

The most famous attraction of Cerveteri is the Necropoli della Banditaccia, which has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site together with the necropolis in Tarquinia. It covers an area of 400 hectares, of which 10 hectares can be visited, encompassing a total of ca. 1,000 tombs often housed in characteristic mounds. It is the largest ancient necropolis in the Mediterranean area.

The tombs date from the 9th century BC (Villanovan culture) to the later Etruscan period (3rd century BC). The earliest tombs are in the shape of a pit, in which the ashes of the dead were housed also simple potholes are present.

From the later Etruscan period are two types of tombs: tumulus-type tombs and the so-called &aposdice&apos, the latter being simple square tombs built in long rows along roads within the necropolis.

The tumuli are circular structures built in tuff, and the interiors, carved from the living rock, house a reconstruction of the house of the dead, including a corridor (dromos), a central hall, and several rooms. Modern knowledge of Etruscan daily life is largely dependent on the numerous decorative details and finds from such tombs. One of the most famous tombs is the Tomb of the Reliefs, identified from an inscription as belonging to the Matuna family and provided with an exceptional series of frescoes, bas-reliefs and sculptures portraying a large series of contemporary life tools.

The most recent tombs date from the 3rd century BC. Some of them are marked by external cippi, which are cylindrical for men, and in the shape of a small house for women.

A large number of finds excavated at Cerveteri are in the National Etruscan Museum, Rome, with others in the Vatican Museums and many other museums around the world. Others, mainly pottery, are in the Archaeological Museum at Cerveteri itself.

Regolini-Galassi tomb

The tomb known as the Regolini-Galassi tomb is one of the wealthiest Etruscan family tombs in Caere, an ancient city in Italy approximately 50–60 kilometres (31–37 mi) north-northwest of Rome. The tomb dates to between 650 and 600 BC, most likely in the 640s BC. Based on the evidence of the tomb's architecture and its contents, it was built by a wealthy family of Caere. The grave goods included with the two decedents included bronze cauldrons and gold jewellery of Etruscan origin in the Oriental style. [1] [2] The tomb was discovered in 1836 in modern-day Cerveteri in an undisturbed condition and named after the excavators, general Vincenzo Galassi and the archpriest of Cerveteri, Alessandro Regolini. [3] Both of these men had previous experience opening and excavating tombs in the area of Caere.

The tomb contains two burial chambers, located either side of a corridor 120 feet (37 m) long and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide. [4] The lower portion of the tomb is cut into the tufa rock while the upper portion is built with square stone blocks, which has created an overhang resulting from the stone blocks extending one above the other. [4] [3] It is covered with a 150 feet (46 m) tumulus. [4] The tumulus covers the entire structure giving it a facade of a monument. [3] After the archaeological excavations of the tomb, the antiquities it contained were initially securely kept in a room in the residence of General Galassi, a key official of the papal army. The grave objects were subsequently sold to the Vatican. [5] They can be viewed today in Gregorian Etruscan Museum. [6]

Excavations at the site unearthed a royal woman buried in the end cell and a cremated man in the right-hand cell, and a wealth of items, including gold jewels, silverware, gilded and bronze ware, and a chariot. Also found on the bronze bed in an annex chamber was the body of one more person, whose identity has remained an unexplained mystery. [3] Several of the items display seventh century BC Villanovan decorative motifs, including a great fibula, adorned with five tiny lions depicted striding across its surface, [2] and a large 25 cm long plaque, decorated with depictions of animals of Eastern origin. [7] The fibula has been acclaimed as masterful in technique.

Orientalizing influences are prominent in the tomb, fusing Etruscan customs with those of Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean. [2] The use of many materials in the items including iron, tin, copper, silver and gold illustrates the importance of mineral wealth in the area which saw Villanovan settlements develop from poor agricultural villages into thriving cities. [8]

Banditaccia Etruscan Necropolis in Cerveteri: Ancient Tombs meet Modern Technology

Our popular Castles and Lakes Tour and Shore Excursion from Civitavecchia has just gotten even more exciting, thanks to an innovative project set forth as part of Lazio’s Cultural Heritage Technology District with the cooperation of the Archaeological Superintendence of Southern Etruria.

On this visit to the ancient Etruscan necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri, you will experience something never before possible in this city of the dead. As you descend into stone-carved tombs, the dark and eerie chambers suddenly come to life to reveal their ancient secrets to you. An ancient civilization and modern technology merge to bring forth a remarkable experience that brings dormant history to life. Vibrant displays of light and color reconstruct how some of the tombs appeared two thousand years ago before time and elements stripped them of their beauty, and its precious contents carted off to museums. Riveting narratives (in both English and Italian) tell fascinating stories of things unknown while sounds and visual effects propel you into the mysterious world of the Etruscans who once lived and died here more than two thousand years ago!

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

Sala Mengarelli
Your first stop is at the Sala Mengarelli, where a introduction documentary video welcomes you with a historic background of the Necropolis and its incredible treasures. The second part of this brief educational documentary focuses on incredible findings in the necropolis and is shown in 3-D. Inside the theater room are also a large projection of the geological and morphological history of the necropolis, and large scale model of a burial mound as seen in the necropolis.

There are 7 tombs that you can visit that are enhanced with Audio and Light, or Audio, Light and Video.

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

In the Audio, Light and Video Tombs, the added benefit of the video projected directly on the stone provides a more theatrical experience. Light beams outline the edges of doorways and furnishing, while reconstructing missing pieces and revealing them with colors that have long faded away. Flickering candles, funeral processions, vases and other precious offerings that were once part of the tomb are beautifully projected onto the stones in tune with the narration. You are wrapped in a multi sensory visit into an ancient era of this city of the dead.

Banditaccia Tomb in Cerveteri

In the Audio and Light Tombs, a narrative explains the story of the tomb, its furnishing, and significance, with spotlights of warm light to accentuate the areas of the tomb being discussed.

Here is a list of the Tombs that provide this multi media enhanced experience.

Audio, Light and Video

Tomb of the Greek Vases (Tomba dei Vasi Greci)
Tomb of the Cornice (Tomba della Cornice)
Tomb of the Pilaster (Tomba del Pilastro)

Audio and Light

Tomb of the Doli (Tomba dei Doli)
Tomb of the Hut (Tomba della Capanna)
Tomb of the Funeral Beds (Tomba dei Letti Funebri)
Tomb of the Capitals (Tomba dei Capitelli)

During your visit, all the other tombs that are open to the public can be visited as well.

Etruscan Square Tomb, Cerveteri - History

Feast of Lars Velch, the Tomb of The Shields, Necropolis of Tarquinia

The Necropolises of Tarquinia and Cerveteri

Tarquinia, a medieval town famous for its archeological remains, is situated just a few kilometres from Tuscany, in Northern Lazio, very close to Capalbio and Monte Argentario and less than an hour drive from Podere Santa Pia.
The town is situated on a small hill, overlooking the beautiful natural landscape of the Alta Tuscia below and immersed amongst the enchanting valleys of the Marta River and the extraordinary territory of Bassa Maremma.

The main square of Tarquinia is the Piazza Cavour, at the west end of the town. In this square a magnificent palace, part of it in Gothic style and part of it Romanesque, with a beautiful pillared courtyard, the Palazzo Vitelleschi (1436-39), now houses the Museo Nazionale Etrusco, with one of Italy's best collections of Etruscan finds, including a fabulous group of terra-cotta winged horses from the 4th century BC.

The Etruscans inhabited central-western Italy, between Tuscany and Lazio, from the 9th Century B.C., and experiencing a cultural climax around the 6th Century B.C. before completely disappearing - a result of the impact of Roman civilization, with which it merged in part.
No definite answer exists as to this people&rsquos origins, and neither does any trace of a similar community &ndash in regards to its ethnic and social characteristics &ndash between Europe and Asia.

Ancient Tarquinia was one of Eturuia's most important cities.

The Necropolises of Tarquinia and Cerveteri

The Tomba della Rilievi, Necropoli della Banditaccia, near Cerveteri

The necropolis tombs have very different traits one from the other, depending on the construction period and technique. Those located in the vast archaeological site of Cerveteri are in the thousands.

Organized according to an urban plan that resembles that of a city with streets, piazzas and quarters (or neighborhoods), their typology differs in relation to the historical period and the status of the family to whom they belonged. Among the most representative examples of these structures is the Tomb of the Greek Vases, dating back to the 6th Century, and accessible through a corridor that seems to imitate an Etruscan temple.

The Tomb of the Cornice , rather, allows access by way of an incline walk that leads to two smaller rooms that hold funereal beds on each side. From there, the pathway continues to a large central room that itself connects to three other principal funerary rooms. Meanwhile, the Tomb of the Capitelli (or the Capitals of a column) owes its peculiarity to its flat roof that is an exact copy of that of the Etruscan home, with support beams of oak and reed. Still, the most famous tomb &ndash of the thousands at Banditaccia &ndash is the Tomb of Reliefs, completed in the 4th Century B.C. The Tomba della Rilievi, the only one of its kind to be discovered in Italy, is packed with painted low relief stuccoes of the artefacts of every day Etruscan life.
It is accessible by way of a long stairway dug into the rock and running to a large room. Here, the ceiling is supported by two columns with capitals unique to Etruria. Thirteen matrimonial funerary niches fill the space, and are painted with red pillows, domestic objects and animals. It is a perfect cross section of a well-to-do Etruscan family of the 4th and 3rd Centuries.

The Necropolis of Tarquinia

The necropolis of Monterozzi in Tarquinia is also famous for its painted tombs, also dug into rock and accessible by means of inclined corridors or stairways. It was realized predominantly for one couple and is composed of one burial room. The first tombs were painted in the 7th Century, but it is only from the 6th Century that they were completely covered in frescoes. [0]
The most famous of these is probably the Fowling and Fishing Tomb with its polychrome frescoes painted about 520 BCE. The tombs of the Lionesses, of the Augurs, and of the Bacchantes (all 6th century BCE) show dancing and banqueting scenes.
The Tomb of the Triclinium is the most outstanding 5th-century painted tomb, and the Tomb of the Shields is a masterpiece of 4th-century painting. A di stinctive 2nd-century painting tradition, rare in Etruria, is found in the paintings of the Tomb of the Cardinal. A serious conservation problem has arisen as many of the paintings have been attacked by moisture and fungus since the collection was opened to the public. [1]

Tarquinia Monterozzi necropolis, area of Calvario | Map

Tomb of the Leopards, confronted leopards above a banqueting scene

The banqueters are "elegantly dressed" male-female couples attended by two nude boys carrying serving implements. The women are depicted as fair-skinned and the men as dark, in keeping with the gender conventions established in the Near East, Egypt and Archaic Greece. The arrangement of the three couples prefigures the triclinium of Roman dining. [5]
Musicians are pictured on the walls to the left and right of the banquet. [6] On the right, a komos of wreathed figures and musicians approaches the banquet on the left, six musicians and giftbearers appear in a more stately procession. [7]

The man on the far-right couch holds up an egg, symbol of regeneration, [8] and other banqueters hold wreaths. [9] The scene is usually taken to represent the deceased's funerary banquet, or a family meal that would be held on the anniversary of his death. It is presented as a celebration of life, [10] while Etruscan banquet scenes in earlier tombs have a more somber character. [11] The scene appears to take place outdoors, within slender trees and vegetation, perhaps under a canopy. [12]

Although the figures are distinctly Etruscan, [13] the artist of the central banquet draws on trends in Greek art and marks a transition from Archaic to Early Classical style in Etruscan art. [14] The processions on the left and right are more markedly Archaic and were executed by different artists. [15]

The tomb was discovered in 1875. In the 1920s, D.H. Lawrence described the painting in his travel essays Sketches of Etruscan Places:

The walls of this little tomb are a dance of real delight. The room seems inhabited still by Etruscans of the sixth century before Christ, [16] a vivid, life-accepting people, who must have lived with real fullness. On come the dancers and the music-players, moving in a broad frieze towards the front wall of the tomb, the wall facing us as we enter from the dark stairs, and where the banquet is going on in all its glory. &hellip So that all is color, and we do not seem to be underground at all, but in some gay chamber of the past. [17]

Artistically, the painting is regarded as less sophisticated and graceful than that found in the Tomb of the Bigas or the Tomb of the Triclinium [18]

The tomb of the Triclinium

The painted walls of the Tomba del Triclinio (Tomb of the Triclinium) have been carefully removed and relocated to the local museum in order to avoid any further deterioration.

The subject matter of these paintings is very similar to that of the Tomb of the Leopards. On the end wall the banqueters recline on couches, entertained by musicians and waited on by servants. A typically elongated Etruscan cat prowls under one of the couches on the lookout for morsels. Above the couches funerary wreaths are painted to give the impression of being suspended from the walls. The long side wall is filled with the figures of dancers and musicians playing together in an idyllic setting with birds and olive trees.

The earliest painted tombs are from the 7th century but only in the 6th century were they fully developed and completely covered with painting. The 4th-century Tomb of the Lionesses consists of a small chamber with gabled roof. The painting depicts flying birds and dolphins and scenes from the life of the Etruscan aristocracy.

The Tomba delle Leonesse (The Tomb of the Lioness)

Another sixth-century BCE Tarquinian tomb is the Tomb of the Lionesses. D. H. Lawrence writes:
Lovely again is the Tomba delle Leonesse, the Tomb of the Lionesses. In its gable two spotted lionesses swing their bell-like udders, heraldically facing one another across the altar. Beneath is a great vase, and a flute-player playing to it on one side, a zither-player on the other, making music to its sacred contents. Then on either side of these goes a narrow frieze of dancers, very strong and lively in their prancing. Under the frieze of dancers is a lotus dado, and below that again, all round the room the dolphins are leaping, leaping all downwards into the rippling sea, while birds fly between the fishes. On the right wall reclines a very impressive dark red man wearing a curious cap, or head-dress, that has long tails like long plaits. In his right hand he holds up an egg, and in his left is the shallow wine-bowl of he feast. The scarf or stole of his human office hangs torn a tree before him, and the garland of his human delight hangs at his side. He holds up the egg of resurrection, within which the germ sleeps as the soul sleeps in the tomb, before it breaks the shell and emerges again. There is another reclining man, much obliterated, and beside him hangs a garland or chain , like the chains of dandelion-stems we used to make as children. And this man has a naked flute-boy, lovely in naked outline, coming towards him (holding up an egg).

Tarquinia, Tomb of the Lionesses (cardarelli, danzatrice)

Tomba della Fustigazione, or "Tomb of Flogging" in English, is an Etruscan burial site from the Monterozzi Necropolis near the ancient city of Tarquinia, in central Italy. The site is named after its eroticized depictions of floggings.
Dated from the 5th century BC the tomb was discovered in 1960 and owes its name primarily for its two flogging scenes, although scenes of dance and music also complement the room. The two flogging frescoes are located on the right wall where they are separated by an image of a funerary door. The paintings are badly damaged. The fresco on the right side depicts a woman bending and holding the hips of a bearded man who is flogging her with his hand. Behind her a youth approaches with a hand on her buttocks and a raised whip in the other hand. The discovery of similar works by the Etruscan people reaffirms early Roman accounts of sexual permissiveness in Etruscan society.

Tomba della Fustigazione, fresco painting inside the tomb where two men are portrayed flagellating a woman
with a cane and a hand during an erotic situation

The Hunting and Fishing Tomb is composed of two chambers. In the first, there is a depiction of Dionysian dancing in a sacred wood, and in the second, a hunting and fishing scene and portraits of the tomb owners. The painted tombs of the aristocracy, as well as more simple ones, are extraordinary evidence of what objects cannot show: daily life, ceremonies and mythology as well as artistic abilities. [0]

Tarquinia, Tomb of the Hunting and Fishing (Tomba della Caccia e Pesca)

Because the tomb was built in two sections at two stages, it is sometimes referred to as the Tombs of Orcus I and II it is believed to have belonged to the Murina family, an offshoot of the Etruscan Spurinnae.

The Tomb of Orcus I (also known as the Tomb of Velcha) was constructed between 470 and 450 BC. The main and right walls depict a banquet, believed to be the Spurinnae after their death in the Battle of Syracuse. [20] [21] The banqueters are surrounded by demons who serve as cupbearers.

One of the banqueters is a noblewoman named Velia Velcha (or by some interpretations, Velia Spurinna), whose portrait has been called the "Mona Lisa of antiquity". [22] [23]
She stares into the darkness with a sombre yet disdainful look, almost sneering at death. She is richly attired in elaborately worked earrings and necklaces. The very realistic depiction of the eye, shown from the side rather than frontally as in the earlier period, is a clear indication of the Hellenistic influence and reflects the artist's knowledge of late 4th Century BCE Greek models.

Detail, Velia Velcha, as pictured on the right wall of Orcus I, Tomb of Orcus, Tarquinia, 4th century B.C.

Tomb of the Augurs, back wall, scene of two Augurs, with inscription, "The priest, he stands, to pass."

'The Tomb of the Augurs is very impressive. On the end wall is painted a doorway to a tomb and on either side of it is a man making what is probably the mourning gesture, strange and momentous, one hand to the brow. The two men are mourning at the door of the tomb.
In the triangle above the painted door two lions, a white-faced one and a dark faced, have seized a goat or an antelope: the dark-faced lion turns over and bites the side of the goat's neck, the white-faced bites the haunch. Here we have again the two heraldic beasts: but instead of their roaring at the altar, or the tree, they are biting the goat, the father of milk-giving life, in throat and hip.
On the side walls are very fine frescoes of nude wrestlers,and then of a scene which has started a lot of talk about Etruscan cruelty. A man with his head in a sack, wearing only a skin-girdle, is being bitten in the thigh by a fierce dog which is held, by another man, on a string attached to what is apparently a wooden leash, this wooden handle being fastened to the dog's collar. The man who holds the string wears a peculiar high conical hat, and he stands, big-limbed and excited, striding behind the man with his head in the sack.This victim is by now getting entangled in the string, the long, long cord which holds the dog but with his left hand he seem to begetting hold of the cord to drag the dog off from his thigh, while in his right hand he holds a huge club, with which to strike the dog when he can get it into striking range.' [25]

Tomb of the Augurs, nude wrestlers on the side walls

Tomb of the blue Demons, Tarquinia

The Tomb of the Blue Demons was only discovered in 1985, after being found during some road works. It is located by the side of the road, adjacent to the Calvario area of the Monterozzi necropolis, although it is not usually open to the public. It is named after the blue and black skinned demons depicted on the right hand wall. (ca. 440-430 B.C.)
The Tomb of the Blue Demons has depictions of hunting scenes and a funeral banquet with four or five couples on clines, combined with a new theme of the deceased departing on a chariot to the underworld. On the left side of the right wall, there is a boat steered by Charun . On the shore a party of people seem set to greet the newcomer to the underworld, flanked by two demons. Two bigger demons (pictured appear on a hillside to the right of them. The blue demon (pictured) is seated on a rock and grasps two serpents, and the black demon seems to rush forward snarling, with piercing eyes like glowing coals. The scenes are a departure from earlier scenes of a happy afterlife, and depict a view of the underworld inhabited by hideous demons. This is one of the few tombs which depict Charon (Etruscan Charun) as the ferryman, in the Greek tradition. However all the demons are typically Etruscan in terms of iconography. In most cases, Charun is seen at the entrance to the underworld, carrying a large mallet. The probable use of this mallet was to open the city gates to Hades. It has been suggested that the gatekeeper at an Etruscan city would have been equipped with a similar mallet to unlock the huge wooden beams that held it secure. [1]
The Tomb of the Blue Demons was discovered after the publication of Stephan Steingräber's Etruscan Painting.

Tomb of the blue Demons (detail), Tarquinia

Feast of Velthur Velch, the Tomb of The Shields

A number of scenes are painted on the entrance wall, showing members of the Velcha family, the tomb occupants. On right of the wall in front of yo , there is a banquet, with Larth Velcha reclining on his bed with his wife Velia Seitithi, who is passing him an egg, symbol of rebirth, often reproduced in Etruscan tomb paintings. She is well dressed, and is seated next to her husband's feet, as was the custom. Not far from them, on the right wall, two other members of the family, Velthur and Arnth, the grandparents of Larth, are standing, dressed in large cloaks. They are accompanied by two young musicians. On the left wall Velthur and Ravnthiu appear again, but this time, they sit on folded stools. Velthur is holding a sceptre, symbol of his power. Over the windows, winged Spirits appear.[26]

Mother of Lars Velch. Detail. Tarquinia,
Tomb of the Shields.3rd&mdash2nd centuries B.C.

[0] UNESCO World Heritage Sites | The Necropolises of Tarquinia and Cerveteri
[1] Tarquinia (Tarchna/Tarchuna) |
Tarquinia is one of the most ancient of Etruscan cities. The ancient myths connected with Tarquinia (those of its eponymous founder Tarchon - the son or brother of Tyrrhenos - and of the infant oracle Tages, who gave the Etruscans the disciplina etrusca, all point to the great antiquity and cultural importance of the city and the archaeological finds bear out that Tarquinia was one of the oldest Etruscan centres which eclipsed its neighbours well before the advent of written records.
[2] Fred S. Kleiner, A History of Roman Art (Wadsworth, 2010), p. xxxv Otto J. Brendel, Etruscan Art (Yale University Press, 1995), p. 269 Luisa Banti, Etruscan Cities and Their Culture (University of California Press, 1973), p. 79.
[3] Kleiner, A History of Roman Art, p. xxxv.
[4] Stephan Steingräber, Abundance of Life: Etruscan Wall Painting (Getty Publications, 2006), p. 133.
[5] Kleiner, A History of Roman Art, p. xxxv.
[6] Kleiner, A History of Roman Art, p. xxxv.
[7] Steingräber, Abundance of Life, p. 133. The narrative of the three walls reads from right to left, as does the written Etruscan language.
[8] Kleiner, A History of Roman Art, p. xxxv.
Note on the right hand part of the scene the man is holding in his right hand an egg. The egg is an important motif in the Etruscan concept of rebirth and the word, O8, ov, used in the Etruscan scripts appears to be "egg."
[9] Steingräber, Abundance of Life, p. 133.
[10] Kleiner, A History of Roman Art, p. xxxv.
[11] Brendel, Etruscan Art, p. 269.
[12] Kleiner, A History of Roman Art, p. xxxv Brendel, Etruscan Art, p. 269.
[13] Kleiner, A History of Roman Art, p. xxxv.
[14] Brendel, Etruscan Art, p. 270.
[15] Steingräber, Abundance of Life, p. 134.
[16] Lawrence's date is a century earlier than current scholarly consensus, as noted above.
[17] D.H. Lawrence, Sketches of Etruscan Places and other Italian Essays in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of D.H. Lawrence, edited by Simonetta de Filippis (Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 47&ndash48.
[18] Steingräber, Abundance of Life, p. 133.
[19] de Grummond, Nancy (2006). Etruscan Myth, Sacred History and Legend'. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press. pp. 229&ndash230.
[20] "The Tomb of the Orcus". The Mysterious Etruscans. RASNA. 2000. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
[21] De Grummond, Nancy Thomson Simon, Erika (2006). The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70687-1.
[22] P. Giannini. "Gli Etruschi nella Tuscia". Retrieved November 23, 2008.
[23] "The Etruscan Haruspexes". daVinci Editrice S.r.l.. 2004. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
[24] Etruscan Murals and Paintings, Etruscan Phrases |
[25] D.H. Lawrence in Tarquinia, The Tomb of the Augurs |
In early April 1927 D.H. Lawrence embarked on what was to be his last extended walking tour. Accompanied by his friend Earl Brewster, he visited the major sites associated with the Etruscans, from Volterra in the north of Tuscany to Tarquinia just across the southern border in Lazio.Tarquinia was (and is) famous for its extraordinary Etruscan necropolis which contains one of the largest collection of ancient tombs ever discovered in Italy.
Lawrence was deeply moved by the colorful frescoes they contain, and soon after his visit he set down his impressions in a series of descriptive essays, originally published in Travel in 1927-8 and subsequently collected in his lovely travel book Etruscan Places which appeared in print not long after his death in 1930. This is one of Lawrence's comments on some of the tombs he explored together with photographs of some of the best known frescoes they contain.
[26] Prof. Graziano Baccolini, Università di Bologna, July 2004 |

Stephan Steingräber, Abundance of Life: Etruscan Wall Painting |

D.H. Lawrence, Etruscan Places - A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook |

Les Grands Siècles De La Peinture : La Peinture Étrusque, Editions d&rsquoArt Albert Skira S.A., Genève, 1985 . (Première édition 1952).

Sonia Amaral Rohter, The Tomba delle Leonesse and the Tomba dei Giocolieri at Tarquinia |

The Tomb of the Triclinium

The Banditaccia Necropolis of Cerveteri

Although Etruscan sites dot the landscape throughout Umbria and Tuscany, one of the more spectacular examples is a short drive from central Rome and well worth dedicating some time to. The Etruscan Necropolis of Cerveteri, locally known as the Necropoli della Banditaccia, was the main burial site for the Etruscan city of Caere and is the most impressive example of both the architectural ingenuity and artistic importance that the Etruscans placed on the afterlife. Located on a hill overlooking the Tyrrhenian coast about 40 km north of Rome, the Necropolis of Cereveteri covers about 2 square kilometers and dates from the 7th to 1st centuries BC. Its incredible time span means that the artwork in the tombs, which the Etruscans were known for, acts as a chronicle for almost the entire Etruscan period.

Cereveteri was the resting place for some of the richest families in Etruria and the discovery of the Regolini-Galassi Tomb in the 19th century uncovered a literal treasure trove of gold, silver and copper ornaments that were used to decorate this ancient resting place. While many of the more precious items were transported to the Vatican museum for safekeeping, visiting the tomb itself is the chance to marvel at the architectural innovation that has allowed structures like these to remain standing for millennia. Not all of the wealth has been spirited away, however: the Tomb of the Reliefs is decorated in an incredibly unique manner, with stucco work and actual tools and keepsakes from the family plastered onto the walls. This decorative style gives the impression of what may have been a typical Etruscan living space and is one of the best windows into what life might have been like in the 4th century BC.

The “Tomba Giglioli” at the Monterozzi Necropolis

Cerveteri and the Necropolis of Banditaccia

The Etruscan Necropolis of Banditaccia is located in top of a hill north to Cerveteri and it is beyond doubt one of the most interesting archeological sites to visit so much as to be declared, together with the Etruscan Necropolis of Tarquinia in 2004 UNESCO World Heritage

The Necropolis expands for about 10 hectares and is formed by almost 400 tombs , the oldest dating back to the Villanovan culture (ninth century BC) and the most recent to the Etruscan period (third century BC.

The feeling in the air walking within the Necropolis of Banditaccia is simply unique! It is a great and well preserved site, inside which you will really feel like you can go back in time and live again the life of this misterious as well as fascinating civilisation .

Cerveteri - Necropolis of Banditaccia

The Necropolis of Banditaccia is absolutely the most extended ancient necropolis of the whole Mediterranean area.

A curiosity: it took its name in late nineteenth century, when the fields of the area were announced by public notice to be let by Cerveteri landlords to locals (in Italian, "bandire", thus "Banditaccia").

The typical circular grave with spherical cap

The most well-known area is the so-called "Fenced Area" and it is the only equipped area used by visitors. In an overall surface of 10 hectares, it contains approximately 2000 tombs. In this area you will find yourself walking among the characteristic circular tumuli in spherical cap, also called "Cubed Tombs" and the big noble hypogeums, arranged along Via Sepolcrale Principale and the minor streets.

Among the most suggestive tombs, there is surely the Tomb of Reliefs (4th century BC), which you can observe through a protective glass. The inscriptions found inside prove that the tomb belonged to the Matunasfamily, who embellished it with extraordinary decorations and reliefs in stucco, representing objects of everyday use and demon images.

Interior of the Tomb of Reliefs

Steeped in greenery, you will also find the Tomb of the Greek Vases, the tomb of the Capitals, with a tiny entry corridor and two small rooms on both sides, the Tomb of the Well, the Mengarelli Tumulus and Maroi Tumulus.

These are only some of the most important ones the necropolis, in fact, inclludes also the Tomb of the Common , with hypogeum graves dating back to the fouth century BC, the Highway , a dirt road linking the city with the site, and the Small Lake , the hill in the central-Eastern side of the plain.

The Etruscan Necropolis of Banditaccia


Proceeding with the project started with the Archeological Museum of Cerveteri, also the necropolis was provided with innovative multimedia itinerary. Inside the eight graves, multimedia setup has been installed. Thanks to audiovisual animations, they reproduce how the environment must have been in the past. The Necropoli counts in addition with a Bookshop, toilet and refreshment areas, with indoors and outdoors tables, where you can stop by for break during your visit.

Visiting the interior of the illuminated tombs is a suggestive experience, thanks to which you will get in contact with ancient Etruscans and the mysterious cult of dead.

Useful information

Etruscan Necropolis of Banditaccia

Plan your trip from the port of Civitavecchia following our directions:

Cerveteri is located 40 Km from Rome and 35 from Civitavecchia. To get to the Necropolis we suggest different alternatives.

Tuesday - Sunday: from 8.30 to sunset.
Closed on Mondays, the 1st January and the 25th December.

To book a group guided visit: +39 0639967150

Admission is free for under 18.

Free admission for everybody the first Sunday of every month

History of Western Art, Architecture, and Design

These two sculptures differ from the Egyptian pair just by their interaction. In this artwork, these two statues are engaged with one another. They are in the same position, but because they are depicted showing much more movement the statue looks more naturally fluid which gives the appearance that they are much more relaxed. This aura of serenity is also depicted i their facial expressions. Both of them are smiling widely, but because their contour lines on the face are rather angular the two figures still give off a regal aura. Both of them have broad shoulders which add to the sense of regality. They have distinct features so that we can individualize the king and the queen not just by a headdress. The women is much more paler in comparison to the man, and is also more petite.

nice observations about the figures' shared features and posture!

The couple's facial expressions and postures appear relaxed and content as opposed to the regal, faraway stares and unnatural bodies common in the Egyptian statues we studied last week. For example, in the statues of Menkaure and his wife there is a degree of interaction in her hands clutching his torso and forearm, but in these Etruscan figures there is a greater level of intimacy and comfort. The couple is lying together, and the wife leans slightly into her husband as his arm rests on her shoulder. Still, their broad shoulders and the frontal view of the top halves of their bodies shows regality and poise. Though the figures' postures are unnatural, the softness in their expressions and skin-on-skin contact make the overall image appear more lifelike and humanistic. I find it interesting that in the second photo, it appears that the woman is subtly leaning into her husband, as opposed to sitting rigidly and showing her husband's dominance through distance. Though it is apparent that she is depicted to depend on him, it is done in a much more loving and natural way than through complete subservience.

intimacy is a good word for describing the interaction between these figures, and the point about how their relationship appears subtly different from different angles is well-observed

The facial expressions of the couple evokes a congenial that emanates from their smiles. Their smiles light up their faces in way that makes the couple feel very companionable. The curves of their face also add to this "warmth", as the curves only make the sculpted figures feel more alive and not so rigid. The couple is intertwined with one another as they recline on the bed. This contrasts the sculptures of ruling Egyptian couples discussed last week, because this couple conveys much more "love" between themselves. The Egyptian couples were very rigid with their muscles tensed usually by their sides while this couple is relaxed in an intimate manner lying in a bed. The Egyptian couple also had a combination of specific and generalized features it is easy to see in this couple, a greater effort to differentiate the facial features. Something interesting about this couple is that their hands are reaching out with their fingers curved as if they are holding something. The textbook mentions that this was probably a symbol of eternity. I find it intriguing that the couple is holding whatever they may have been holding out, almost as if they were offering it up to someone else.

good point about the hands -- the symbol of eternity was most likely a torch to light their way in the next life, as we discussed in class

While the couple's facial expressions are still somewhat unnatural, the smiles make them seem much more alive and realistic than the statue of Menkaure and his wife. Their stiff postures keep them looking solemn and regal, but the change in facial expression gives them much more emotion.

yes, the significance of the change in expression is crucial here

I think I would describe the couples' facial expressions as "content." They look more at ease and casual compared to the Egyptian sculptures we looked at in class They do not look like rulers who are one step away from being divine. I am struck most by how casual they are. Their reclined positions already makes them less rigid and formal than the Egyptian sculptures, and, on top of that, they have more open and naturalistic hand positions and gestures. Their open hands make them look more relaxed, and when this is combined with their facial expressions, it looks like they could have been having a conversation.

absolutely, the conversational feel of the couple's interaction is very palpable!

Both figures have a tender smile on their faces, unlike the expressions on the sculptures of Egyptian ruling couples. Their facial expressions and postures are relaxed and alive. These features contrast with the unnatural and rigid poses of the Egyptian figures. The couple here is presented as a lively, animated couple. They are interacting with each other, and they have a great level of body contact. Their skin looks smooth and natural. From their expressions and posture, the viewer can feel the warmth between them. One thing that I noticed about the two figures is that their fingers are curved as if they are holding something in their hands. According to Janson’s History of Art, the couple might once hold a cup or a perfume container in their hands. Another thing that I noticed is that there seem to be more details on their upper body than on their legs. I think this might be done because the sculptor is trying to emphasize the upper portion of their body and allowing the viewer to focus on their gestures and body contact with each other.

very subtle point about the difference between the upper and lower bodies of the figures! the couple's position reclining on a bed could also be understood to represent them between life and death, their still lower halves evoking the sense of eternal repose while their upper bodies and heads suggest their enduring presence among the living.

After studying the facial expressions of the figures, I would say they convey a sense of comfort and security through their gentle smiles and the tender expression around their eyes. The eyes especially give the figures a sense of quiet happiness, while the gentle smiles tell the viewer that the figures are content with where they are at. Not only is this sense of comfort shown by the facial expressions but by the body language as well. The reclined position of the figures shows that they are relaxed and the emotional closeness of the couple is evident through they way she is leaning into him. This level of comfort and closeness is even stronger when compared to the Egyptian art, where the figures seem very emotionally distant even if they are physically touching. The facial expressions and body language of the Egyptian figures are rigid and upright, while the stretched-out legs and reclined position of these figures directly contrasts to show a sense of intimacy and comfort. The feature of these figures that stuck out to me the most was the hands, which are open and almost seem to be reaching for something. The hands suggest movement which gives the figures life and makes them seem alive.

good observation about the relaxed faces and bodies of the figures -- they do indeed seem calm in the face of death


The ancient city was situated on a hill about 7 km from the sea, a location which made it a wealthy trading town derived originally from the iron ore mines in the Tolfa hills. [1] It had three sea ports including Pyrgi and Punicum. It was bounded by the two rivers Mola and Manganello, and lay 80 metres above sea level on an outcrop of rocky tuff.

The earliest evidence of settlement of the site come from finds of urns at two areas (Cava della Pozzolana and Sorbo) from the 8th and 9th centuries BC and archaeology has revealed the presence of stable employment in the area with housing and related Etruscan necropolis settlements.

Trade between the Greeks and Etruscans became increasingly common in the middle of the 8th century BC, with standardised urns and pottery common in graves of the time. The town became the main Etruscan trading centre during the 7th century BC, and trade increased with other Greek colonies in Southern Italy and Sicily, and with the Corinthians. Locally manufactured products began to imitate imported Greek pottery especially after the immigration of Greek artists into Etruria.

The oldest examples of Bucchero ceramics come from Caere and it can be assumed that these typical Etruscan ceramics were developed here or produced at least for the first time in large scale. [2]

In the Orientalizing Period from around 700 BC the early prosperity of the city is demonstrated in the graves of this period which often contain eastern imports and rich gold finds, notably in the extremely rich Regolini-Galassi tomb with its many fine gold offerings. [3] From 530 to 500 BC Greek artists were active in the city and worked there for a generation producing color-painted hydras.

Burials of the time became increasingly grand, with jewellery and other products of particularly fine manufacture, illustrating the continuing good fortunes of the city. At the height of its prosperity in the 6th century BC, the people of Caere (with the Carthaginians) emerged marginally victorious from clashes with the Phocaean Greeks.

Caere had a good reputation among the Greeks for its values and sense of justice, since it abstained from piracy. [4] It was one of only two Etruscan cities to erect its own treasury at Delphi, the "Agillei Treasury" dedicated to Pythian Apollo. Since this was generally not allowed to non-Greeks, the legends regarding earlier Greek colonization efforts of the wider area of Caere and Rome seem to have played an important role in allowing such a bold, from a political point of view, act. (Delphi was also a political and intrigue centre for the whole Eastern Mediterranean and Near East area).

Caere appears for the first time in documented history in 540 BC concerning the Battle of Alalia in which captured prisoners were stoned to death in the city, an act that was later attributed as the cause of an ensuing plague. In recompense, athletic contests were held every year in the city to honour the dead.

In 509 BC, upon the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, the king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and his two eldest sons Titus and Aruns went into exile in Caere. [5]

In spite of the difficulties affecting Etruria during the period, trade once again flourished through the 5th century BC, arguably due to the particularly good relations with the Rome, a traditional ally of the city.

Caere was not spared by the crisis that affected the great centres of southern Etruria during the second half of the 5th c. BC, after the defeat at sea at the Battle of Cumae in 474 BC. A recovery can be perceived, however, at the beginning of the 4th century BC, when strong relationships with Rome continued. The town sheltered the Roman refugees including the priests and Vestal Virgins after the Gallic attack and fire of 390 BC, and the Roman aristocracy was educated in Caere. [6]

The Roman Tabulae Caeritum dates from this time, which listed those citizens of Caere who were classed as Roman citizens and liable for military service, without being able to vote. It is supposed to have been the first community to receive this privilege.

In 384/383 BC Dionysius plundered Pyrgi. Support came from Caere, but this was also beaten. [7]

In 353 BC Caere, allied to the Tarquinii, lost a war with Rome and with it some of its territory, including the coastal area and ports so important for trade.

From about 300 BC Caere came under Roman rule. Although the exact sequence of their submission can no longer be reconstructed today, there had been numerous feuds. Rome is said to have had a 100-year truce with Caere as a result, and virtually all Etruria was in Roman hands from about 295 BC.

The city lost its wealth and power completely by the first century AD.

Saint Adeodatus participated as bishop of this episcopal see, in a synod at Rome called by Pope Symmachus in 499, shortly before the seat of the bishopric was moved, because of malaria, from Caere Vetus (today's Cerveteri) to the new settlement of Caere Nova (today's Ceri). The territory of the Diocese of Caere became part of the Diocese of Porto around the 11th century. [8]

No longer a residential bishopric, Caere is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see. [9]

During the period 700-300 BC the inhabitants constructed an impressive necropolis known today as Banditaccia, which is still not fully excavated but has already yielded the "Sarcophagus of the Spouses".

Since 2012, Queen's University at Kingston has been leading archaeology at the urban centre known as Vigna Marini. [10]

Linnea Caproni

I visited both Tarquinia and Cerveteri on a goregous sunny day late November, 2004. I was just about to finish a course on Etruscan history, offered by the University of Arizona in Orvieto, Italy. Having studied both Tarquinia and Cerveteri in detail during the three-month course, I was greatly anticipating the fieldtrip to these necropolises.

The trip did not disappoint me. As soon as I stepped off the bus at Tarquinia that cool, sunny morning and saw the signs leading to much-studied tombs, like the Tomb of the Leopards, chills shimmied down my body. Aside from the personal knowledge I had with this particular UNESCO World Heritage Site, its ancient aesthetic qualities alone inspired awe.

Tarquinia has been well maintained. My first impression was of cleanliness and well-marked paths. I noticed attempts at ongoing conservation procedures, as some tombs were closed to the public as part of a regular tomb-maintenance rotation procedure. Additionally, a small espresso bar offered to-go cups of cappuccinos, etc., adding to the cultural experience! It was a perfect moment. Yet apparently perfection can be topped!

The sensations I felt at Cerveteri were once-in-a-lifetime. The site emanates with mystery and days long past. The enormous tumuli tombs, some with steps leading to their grassy, rounded platforms, are like green furry mushrooms. A person could meander amongst the tombs and explore their dark interiors for hours on end, becoming lost in Etruscan history.

Both of these sites deserve visits. But whoever does so should first brush up on the sites' importance in Etruscan history, in order to gain more from the experience than purely aesthetic awe.

Watch the video: Art History Exploring tomb of shields and chairs in Cerveteri