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Bill Thayer

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Etruscan Funerary Monuments and Burial Grounds

[image ALT: a narrow street of austere undecorated rectangular one-story stone buildings. They are in fact tombs; the street is a small part of the Etruscan necropolis at Crocifisso di Tufo, near Orvieto, Umbria (central Italy).]

This street of tombs is a small section of the Crocifisso di Tufo burial ground.

[image ALT: A stylized representation of a metal hand-mirror, taken from the binding of a book. It is an Etruscan mirror motif representing that book, George Dennis's 'Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria'.]

[ 8/3/02: 1165pp in print presented in 64 webpages; 107 engravings,
2 plans, 6 maps; 4 photos of my own, not elsewhere onsite;
complete except for proofreading ]

George Dennis's Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, despite its date of publication (1848), remains one of the best and most comprehensive books ever written about the monuments of the Etruscans, and much of the information is every bit as good now as then. It is an excellent starting-point for serious inquiry into the Etruscans.

In addition to this borrowed work, and interwoven with it where appropriate, some of my own material is onsite, and more is on its way:

[image ALT: A receding series of flat-topped rectangular stone huts. It is a partial view of the Etruscan necropolis at Crocifisso di Tufo, near Orvieto, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 2 pages, 5 photos ]

The Crocifisso di Tufo necropolis near Orvieto is one of the largest Etruscan cemeteries in central Italy: cubical stone houses for the dead fronting on neat perpendicular streets, many of the tombs with inscriptions over their doors.

[image ALT: a dark underground room with several richly sculpted sarcophagi]

[ 1 page, 4 photos ]

The Ipogeo dei Volumni (or Hypogeum of the Velimna Family) near Perugia. Volumni was their Latin name in later years, and the name by which this large under­ground tomb house is known: but their proper Etruscan name was Velimna. They buried their dead here all the way thru the 1st century A.D.; one of the caskets is known — in the tourist business, at any rate — as that of "the last of the Volumni".

[image ALT: A rocky hole in some snow.]

[ 1 page, 3 photos ]

In the southern area of the Tuscan province of Grosseto, the otherwise interesting Roman town of Rusellae has three dismal Etruscan tombs as well. Here they are.

[image ALT: A stone pillar, about 1.6 meters tall, standing in the center of a bedroom-sized plot of grass, surrounded by rough stone walls only slightly less tall. It is part of the Etruscan tomb of the Fibula d'Oro at Vetulonia, in Tuscany (central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 3 photos ]

Also in Grosseto province, the Etruscan remains of Vetulonia are much more important. Unfortunately, when I was there, everything was quite inaccessible, except this one curious remnant of tomb.

[image ALT: A pit about a meter and a half deep in the woods, carpeted with dead leaves. It is bounded on the left and right by low walls of irregular stone masonry, leading to a stone structure, about the size and ship of a phone booth and entered by a pivoting stone door. It is an Etruscan tomb at Faggeto, near S. Giovanni del Pantano, Perugia province, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 3 pages, 15 photos ]

Umbria, despite scattered fits of local boosterism, has few Etruscan remains; but the tomb at Faggeto is undoubtedly Etruscan and is an exceptional little monument, of those currently linked on this page, my favorite. (No, I'm not about to spoil the surprise: you'll have to visit the page for yourself.)

Pending more formal pages, for the following tombs, you should also see my diary:

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Site updated: 1 May 08