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The Etruscan Necropolis of Crocifisso di Tufo


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This photo shows about a quarter of the Etruscan cemetery.

This necropolis of the 4th century B.C. lies at the foot of the butte of Orvieto: somewhat larger than a football field, it is quite well preserved. Some careful restoration has been undertaken: caved-in roofs have been reërected, for example. It's a real city of the dead, in which the chamber tombs, small aboveground more or less cubical houselike structures, face neatly onto perpendicularly intersecting streets.


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These are two of several short inscriptions on the lintels of the chamber tomb doors. It is a mystery to me why they should be so sharp 24 centuries after they were carved in tufa — one of the softest of stones — but they are: anyone with an elementary knowledge of Etruscan can read them easily.

Some of the tombs still contain stone sarcophagi or, more commonly, stone benches. The chambers are quite small, about 6 or 8 feet on a side at most; you will need a wide-angle lens to photograph them better than this:


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Page updated: 21 Dec 06