Necropolis of Cerveteri

The Necropolis of Cerveteri

There are numerous necropolis around Cerveteri, the main one is that of Banditaccia, which is located just 1.5 kilometers north-west of the city, on a tuff cliff and extends for about 100 hectares. Among the other necropolises, those of Pian del Sorbo, Monte Abatone, Abatoncino and Monte Tosto are certainly worth a visit. As for the nearby necropolis of Tarquinia, this one of Cerveteri has also been included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2004.

Excavations in this necropolis did not begin before 1909, in fact the first two main archaeological sites were only those of Tarquinia and Vulci. The first excavation campaign was carried out between 1906 and 1936 by the archaeologist Raniero Mengarelli, he is responsible for having brought to light the main street of this necropolis, called “Via degli Inferi” in 1927. From 1936 the site was abandoned and unfortunately it was objects of clandestine excavations. Research resumed only in the 1960s, under the guidance of the archaeologist Mario Moretti.

The Necropolis of Banditaccia is unique in its kind, as it is, in effect, a city destined for the dead, with streets, houses, squares and buildings of various kinds. Many of the roads are completely dug into the tuff, these are the famous vie cave, also very popular in the Tufo area, in Tuscany, near the villages of Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano -. The tombs are very large, with multiple rooms, often arranged over several floors, with stairs and corridors. The tombs of this necropolis are not frescoed (or, at least the traces of their existence are no longer visible).

The “Cava della Pozzolana” is the oldest area of the whole necropolis with tombs from the Villanovan period dating back to the 9th century BC. The main nucleus, the richest in terms of tombs, with over 2000 burial grounds, is the “Zona del Recinto”, covering an area of about 10 hectares. Within 8 tombs of this sector, the Archaeological Superintendence for Southern Etruria, in collaboration with Filas, has created a multimedia path with 3D video projections.

The necropolis hosts different types of tombs:

  • Cockpit tombs: dating back to the Villanovan period (IX-VIII century BC). The tombs of this era are very simple, they all contained an urn with the ashes of the deceased.
  • Great Mounds: dating back to the orientalizing period (7th century BC). These are tombs of monumental dimensions (Tomba della Capanna, Tumulo Mengarelli and Tumulo Maroi).
  • Tombs with description and finishes: dating back to the Archaic period (6th century BC). They are more refined tombs with decorations and finishes (Tomba della Cornice, Tomba della Casetta and Tomba dei Vasi Greci).
  • Nut tombs: prior to the great crisis that struck southern Etruria (5th century BC). This new typology replaced the previous tumulus tomb, the cube tombs were distributed along perpendicular roads to each other.
  • Tombs of the Etruscan Hellenization period: In full crisis of the Etruscan world due to Rome and the clashes with the cities of Magna Graecia (IV-III century BC). Among the tombs of this period, the most important is certainly that of the Reliefs.

The necropolis of Cerveteri is divided into 3 sectors:

Zona dei Grandi Tumuli
, It is the sector that is immediately to the right of the road that leads to the necropolis and reaches the border with the Manganello Valley. It was most likely the most important and prestigious area of this area, in fact it offered a wonderful view of the sea and the city. The largest number of tumulus tombs dating back to the orientalizing period, 7th century BC, are concentrated in this area. Here are some of the most beautiful tombs of the necropolis:

  • The Tomb of the Painted Animals, the oldest, a splendid example of a tumulus tomb, noteworthy for its monumental funeral beds, its vestibule originally housed a wonderful fresco depicting fantastic animals.
  • The Tomb of the Painted Lions, dating back to the 7th century BC, which owes its name to the splendid decoration on the wall.
  • The Tomb of Shields and Chairs, one of the most important because it recreates the rooms of a noble house of the sixth century BC, particularly the six beds with plate legs and the two throne chairs.
  • The Giuseppe Moretti Tumulus, a wonderful example of the Archaic period. The large room is supported by two imposing Tuscan columns and leads into 7 burial chambers.
  • The Tomba della Nave, famous for its frescoed wall – unfortunately no longer visible today – which depicted a sailing boat
  • The Tomb of the Onder Marine, from the Hellenistic period, much appreciated for its frescoed walls.
  • The last one, before the Manganello ditch, is the Toblino Tomb, a cube-shaped tomb from the 6th century BC, of particular interest is a false lunette door placed between the two burial chambers, symbolizing the passage from the earthly world to the afterlife. .

Tombs of the Municipality
, In this area there are all the tombs built by the most important families of the 4th century BC. These are monumental and imposing buildings with an extraordinary architectural and decorative variety:

  • Tomb of the Tamsnie Family, a large room that housed two sarcophagi bearing the epigraphy of Venel Tamsnie, an important magistrate of Caisri – the ancient Etruscan name of Caere -.
  • Tomb of the Triclinium, with some interesting frescoes of a banquet and two reliefs of a panther and a lion.
  • Tomb of the Sarcophagi, which housed four sarcophagi belonging to the Apucus family. Three had depicted the image of the deceased, while one showed a lid in the shape of a roof.
  • Tomba dei Tarquini, also known as the Tomb of the Inscriptions, built on two levels. The names of the members of the Tarchna family, one of the most important in Cerveteri, with 8 generations were reported on the tombs.
  • Tomba dell’Alcova, with an interesting internal architecture and four mighty pillars. The alcove on the central wall houses an imposing double bed equipped with a footrest and stool. The tomb belonged to the founders of the Tarnas family.
  • The Tomb of the 5 chairs it is one of the most interesting of all, and is one of the most important testimonies of the funeral rites in use in the seventh century BC. One of the two rooms, the one on the right, houses an altar table, while the one on the left has five small chairs with five figures depicted in the offer.

Area of the Pond and Via degli Inferi
It is the last stretch just above Gola del Manganello, here in the 60s important excavation campaigns took place which brought to light 500 tombs. This area was intended for the less wealthy population, as evidenced by the very simple tombs in structure and decorations. This area develops around the Via degli Inferi, a road entirely excavated in the tuff, from its walls, you enter the various burial chambers. The most common type of tomb in this section is the chamber type.

  • The Tomb of the Doric Columns is the most important in this area and is the only monumental one.
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