ENGLISH VERSION | Etruscan graves found in Tarquinia

In the heart of the Etruscan necropolis of Monterozzi, ten graves have emerged. They can be dated between the Villanovan and the archaic age, that is the period that saw the full affirmation of Tarquinia, to which the myths about the foundation of the Etruscan civilization are related. The discovery of this new burial group goes back to last fall. However, researchers have shown the artifacts to the public on the 14th of January.

Necropoli di Monterozzi, Tarquinia
Monterozzi Necropolis, Tarquinia
The excavations of Tarquinia

The necropolis of Monterozzi, the most important of Tarquinia and the most ancient one of Etruria, is located on the eponymous hill, about one kilometer from the city. The decision to start a digging campaign was made by the Archeological Superintendence, Fine Arts and Landscape for the province of Viterbo and southern Etruria and goes back to last fall, after ploughing works on a private land led to the opening of a series of cavities of archeological interest. During the excavations, a group of ten Etruscan tombs was brought to light. They can be dated between the Villanovian age and the archaic one and they’re located a few meters away from the Tomba Dei Tori and from the Auguri one. Unfortunately, in ancient times, the tombs were sacked by thieves who stole the precious metals, leaving ceramics and other grave goods in situ because they were considered of low value.


The Gemina grave

Early restoration works on the artifacts allow to fully comprehend the richness of the funerary equipment of the Gemina grave. This tomb aroused great interest from an architectural point of view. The monument consists of two flanked chambers facing south-west towards two open-air vestibules accessed through a staircase. The covering of both chambers is of the slit type. Nenfro plates were used to seal the doors. Alongside the left wall of both chambers, there is the carved bed on which the deceased was placed. The closing slabs, which were previously perforated by the first visitors, were accurately sealed again after the looting, as a sign of respect towards the deceased. However, over time, the maneuver led to the collapse of the northern chamber.

Carved bed from the Gemina grave



The equipment

The funerary equipment consists of vascular shapes made of splint-polished mixture with carved and configured decorations; several bucchero vases; pots painted in Etruscan-geometric style, including some attributed to the Palm Painter; euboian cups a chevrons: various wood fragments made of iron and gold, which suggest the presence of precious objects, and a female statuette.

Female statuette


The Dating

Daniele Federico Maras, an official working for the Superintendence of Tarquinia, suggested the first half of the 7th century B.C. as chronological frame, placing the tomb context in the decades preceding Tarquinius Priscus, who is traditionally known as the fifth king of Rome (between 616 and 579 B.C.).


EMINENT FIGURES | Antonia Ciasca, The Mediterranean between Etruscans and Phoenicians

The November column

We would like to dedicate the November Eminent Figures column to the women who have made the history of archaeology and culture in Italy, starting with an archaeologist who, without a doubt, has left an indelible mark in her studies on the Phoenician and Punic Mediterranean.

Antonia Ciasca

Antonia Ciasca was one of the most prominent archaeologists in the Italian and Mediterranean panorama of the second half of the 20th century. Etruscologist and scholar of the Phoenician civilization, student of giants such as Massimo Pallottino and Sabatino Moscati, she left her mark on the history of the excavations on the island of Mozia in Sicily.

She was born in Melfi (PZ) on 21 March 1930 from Raffaele Ciasca (historian and Senator of the Italian Republic) and Carolina Rispoli (writer, essayist and novelist). Following the relocation of her father, a university lecturer, she attended schools first in Genoa and then in Rome, where she obtained her classical high school diploma.

Between Etruscans and Phoenicians

In Rome she graduated from the University La Sapienza, where she was a pupil of Massimo Pallottino and Sabatino Moscati and participated in the excavations of the Etruscan centre of Pyrgi (Santa Severa). Pyrgi, a very famous centre in which, a few years later, gold foils with bilingual inscription in Etruscan and Phoenician were found, is a first thin thread which, uniting the Etruscan and Punic worlds, brought the new Ph.D. Ciasca closer to studies on the Phoenicians.

She soon became assistant professor to Sabatino Moscati, at the time teacher of Semitic epigraphy, and with him began the path that would take her to the East, until she became one of the field archaeologists, in 1959, of Ramat Rahel’s archaeological expedition in Israel.

A youthful portrait of Antonia Ciasca with Palestinian kefiya (from )

Since 1963, for six consecutive years, she directed the excavations of the first Italian archaeological mission in Tas Silg (Malta): here she identified the sanctuary of Astarte, known by classical sources (Cicero speaks of it) as a well-known place of worship where the faithful from all over the Mediterranean landed.

The following year she became director of the archaeological mission in Mozia (TP), a site to which she dedicated a large part of her work. In Mozia Antonia Ciasca chose to start her research from a place that was a symbol of Phoenician and Punic civilization: the Tophet, the burial place of children and, according to some ancient texts, the place where infants were sacrificed to the god Baal Hammon. At the same time, however, he began to systematically excavate the inhabited area of the Punic city, starting the first discoveries concerning the urban planning of the island. A brilliant and methodical archaeologist, Antonia Ciasca published annually the preliminary reports of her researches in the field, showing that she mastered the stratigraphic method in a commendable way. Her devotion to work led her, in 1966, when she was only 36 years old, to take up, first in Italy, the newborn chair of Punic Antiquities at La Sapienza University.


A historical image of the excavations of the Tophet of Mozia













Mozia in the context of the Western Mediterranean

The studies and research in Mozia led the Lucanian scholar to participate in excavations and research in other Punic centres in the Mediterranean, in order to have a wider vision of the Punic culture that the Sicilian island was returning. In 1975 Ciasca went to Tharros (Sardinia), in the 80’s to Algeria and Tunisia, to Cap Bon and Ras ed-Drek; finally, in 1998 she resumed the research in Tas Silg.