Excavating the Tombs of the Etruscan King and Queen at Tarquinia

A new series of excavations is due to begin at the Etruscan necropolis at Tarquinia, 60km north of Rome. The site is home to Etruscan tombs dating from as early as 700 BC many of them painted with lurid frescoes depicting exotic wild animals and scenes of Etruscans dancing, fighting and making love. While the locations of over 150 painted tombs are known (not all open to the public), it is thought that there are more to be discovered. According to reports in the Italian press (such as this one from L’Espresso), the excavations will be coordinated by Anna Maria Moretti superintendent for Archaeological Heritage of Central Etruria and Maria Cataldi, director of the necropolis at Tarquinia.

The work, undertaken by a team from Turin University, will concentrate on the Doganaccia area of the necropolis , which dates from the seventh century BC. This is where two large tumuli thought to be of great importance were discovered last century. They are assumed to have been the tombs of two powerful figures and, accordingly, have been named the Tombs of the King and Queen. Work will start before the end of August and is scheduled to last one month.

Unlike many of the tombs open to the public at the necropolis, the tombs of the King and Queen pre-date the era when fresco paintings were used. Their bare walls were partially carved out of the bedrock of the necropolis and there is a small sacred area in front off the tomb of the Queen, where commemorative rituals may have been performed. The team of archaeologists will prepare the two tombs to be opened to the public some time in 2010.

Photo by Etrvsco.