While I don’t normally post about Roman archaeology on here, the recent opening of an intact Etruscan tomb in Tarquinia sparked my interest, reminding me of my studies of Roman art and architecture as an undergraduate history student. So I thought I would share this particular discovery, which seems all-together monumental in the field of Roman/Etruscan art, archaeology and anthropology.
“The skeletonized body of an Etruscan prince, possibly a relative to Tarquinius Priscus, the legendary fifth king of Rome from 616 to 579 B.C., has been brought to light in an extraordinary finding that promises to reveal new insights on one of the ancient world’s most fascinating cultures. Found in Tarquinia, a hill town about 50 miles northwest of Rome, famous for its Etruscan art treasures, the 2,600 year old intact burial site came complete with a full array of precious grave goods.
“It’s a unique discovery, as it is extremely rare to find an inviolate Etruscan tomb of an upper-class individual. It opens up huge study opportunities on the Etruscans,” Alessandro Mandolesi, of the University of Turin, told Discovery News. Mandolesi is leading the excavation in collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendency of Southern Etruria.
A fun loving and eclectic people who among other things taught the French how to make wine, the Romans how to build roads, and introduced the art of writing into Europe, the Etruscans began to flourish around 900 B.C., and dominated much of Italy for five centuries. Known for their art, agriculture, fine metalworking and commerce, the Etruscans begun to decline during the fifth century B.C., as the Romans grew in power. By 300-100 B.C., they eventually became absorbed into the Roman empire.
Since their puzzling, non-Indo-European language was virtually extinguished (they left no literature to document their society), the Etruscans have long been considered one of antiquity’s great enigmas.
Indeed, much of what we know about them comes from their cemeteries. Only the richly decorated tombs they left behind have provided clues to fully reconstruct their history. Blocked by a perfectly sealed stone slab, the rock-cut tomb in Tarquinia appeared promising even before opening it.”
Read the full article here.