Necropolis of Tarquinia
The Necropolis of Monterozzi is the most important of Tarquinia and of all the ancient Etruria, it rises on the homonymous hill, about one kilometer from the city.
Since 2004 the Necropolis of Tarquinia, together with that of Cerveteri, has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It extends for about 5 kilometers and houses more or less 6000 tombs, 62 of which are painted, the largest number ever found up to this time. In addition to their large number, these painted tombs represent a very precious testimony of Etruscan painting and are in effect the most important testimony ever to exist on the life and customs of the Etruscan people.
The necropolis hosts numerous types of tombs but the main ones are certainly those with chambers – there are some with or without mounds -. These tombs are among the most important also for the wealth of funeral objects that were found there during the archaeological excavations. The tombs are, for the most part, dug directly into the rock and are accessible by means of some steps, the burial procedure in fact provided that these tombs were then covered and sealed, so they had to be partially buried.
The scenes depicted in the frescoes inside the tombs concern the daily life of the Etruscans: men on horseback, fishermen, family scenes, diving from the rocks into the calm waters of some small lakes. Many animals: lions, leopards, dolphins, and even fantastic beings: snakes with horse heads, monsters, chimeras, men with wings. But also representations of natural subjects and geometric motifs.
Among the most beautiful tombs to see:
- del Guerriero:dating back to 520 BC it is a tomb consisting of a single room with a double sloping ceiling. The room is accessed by a dromos – an open-air corridor – with a step. Particularly interesting is the decorated checkerboard ceiling, the six red columns on the walls and some frescoes depicting two lionesses, two zither and double flute players, a dancer and two dancers, and some characters depicted during a banquet.
- dei Leopardi: it is a chamber tomb, consisting of a small rectangular chamber. The walls are decorated with frescoes made between 540 and 530 BC. by an artist of probable Greek or Oriental origin. The paintings depict scenes of a funeral ritual with the door of the underworld with two priests on the sides, on the right wall you can see a man in a purple red suit who is facing the door of Hades offering a greeting gesture, and is followed by a servant who hands him a curule saddle – a folding seat with ivory decorations, much in use in ancient Rome – and another person sitting on the ground. Also on the right wall you can admire another character holding a curved stick, probably a judge, busy following a wrestling match between two men. The scene is completed by a masked character, a “phersu” very common in paintings of sports scenes and in funeral games, who takes part in a sort of forerunner game of gladiator games, keeping a beast on a leash that bites another character with his head covered. from a hood. On the opposite wall, another “phersu” is portrayed dancing (or running?) Together with two other figures who can probably be identified as a court player and two boxers.
- dei Tori: built in 530 BC approximately, this tomb is famous for its frescoes with a style identifiable in the Middle and Late Archaism. The tomb is preceded by a dromos which leads to an atrium which leads into two small separate chambers. Both the pediments and the walls have been entirely decorated with red ocher, Egyptian blue, malachite for the blue green color and vegetable black. The decorations of the pediments represent animals (mainly felines), while the wall at the bottom of the atrium shows two bulls – hence the name of the tomb -, the bull on the right has a human head and is probably Acheloo, divinity of the Greek mythology. Two erotic groups are depicted between the two bulls, while a third bull can be seen on the pediment. On the architrave, on the other hand, there is an inscription celebrating the owner of the tomb, a certain Arath Spuriana who, in all probability, was one of the exponents of the Spurinna family, one of the most important families of Tarquinia.
- of Hunting and Fishing: this tomb dates back to 530 BC, is located about 10 meters deep and is one of the main ones of the Tarquinia necropolis. The tomb is accessed by a dromos with a staircase entirely dug into the tuff. The most interesting part are certainly his frescoes, a boat with five characters on board, a helmsman and three sailors and a fisherman, to note an eye – a classic apotropaic element of Etruscan culture -. Around the boat dolphins and birds, on the shore a man much larger than those on board the boat hits the birds using a slingshot. Then there is another hunter, who always holds a slingshot, and a fisherman who throws his harpoon on the fish that swim among the rocks.
- of Auguri: it is a painted chamber tomb, dating back to 540-530 BC. It consists of a single small rectangular room. The most interesting element is certainly the pictorial cycle of the walls, depicting a funeral rite and the games dedicated to it. On the back wall is the door of the underworld on the sides of which stand the figures of two priests. On the right wall we see a person wearing a purple dress – probably a representative of public power – facing the door of Hades with a gesture of greeting, behind him a servant carrying a Curule saddle in his arms – one folding stool decorated in ivory very popular in Ancient Rome – and another character sitting on the ground. Also on the right wall is a scene of a fight between two athletes and a “phersu”, probably a judge, who observes the fight. The scene ends with another “phersu” who takes part in a game forerunner to gladiator fights and keeps a beast on a leash that bites another human figure in a loincloth and with his head covered by a hood. The left wall shows a phersu dancing (or running?) Together with an Aulòs player and two athletes.
- dell’Orco: also known by the name of Tomba dei Murina, it is an Etruscan hypogeum built in the 4th century BC. and discovered in 1868. This tomb probably belonged to an exponent of the Murina family, related to the powerful Spurinna family. Of particular interest are the frescoes in the tomb, including one depicting Velia Velcha, an Etruscan noblewoman.
- dei Giocolieri: dating back to 510 BC, this tomb dates back to the Archaic period and consists of a single burial chamber. The frescoes are very interesting, on the tympanum you can admire a lion and a panther. On the back wall, the main one, a scene depicting a male figure – most likely the deceased -, some jugglers to his left, and to his right an acrobat who throws rings at a target placed above the head of a woman, a flute player, a naked man and two children. The right wall instead depicts four women dancing while the left wall shows a syringe player – an Etruscan wind instrument -, an elderly man with a beard and a boy.
NECROPOLIS OF TARQUINIA
Via Ripagretta 01016 Tarquinia VT
Tel: (+39) 338 861 8856
winter: from 08.30 to one hour before sunset
summer: from 08.20 to 19.39
closing day: Monday
extraordinary closures: December 25th and January 1st
full ticket € 6
reduced ticket € 3