A.G.Tur. Tourist Guides Association of Viterbo and Rome and Group Leaders
To book a show tour -Cell. 349 29.34.058 Fax 06 233.242.622 firstname.lastname@example.org
Etruscans and Romans
If you want to find out more about the mysterious Etruscan world, then Tarquinia is the ideal place for you. Situated some miles from the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the ancient town lay on a wide plateau surrounded by a wonderful landscape. Its Etruscan name, Tarchna* or Tarchuna*, reminds us of an old story about the origin of the town. Legend has it that Tarchon, a mythical hero who lived in Lydia, in Asia Minor, was forced to leave his homeland because of a terrible famine. After sailing across the Mediterranean Sea, he came to the coast of pper Latium, and there he built the big town of Tarquinia. Anyway, Tarquinia was the oldest Etruscan town as well as one of the largest centres in southern Etruria. Its economy was based on trade but some other important activities such as metal working, salt mining and agriculture contributed to the wealth of the town. Tarquinia reached the height of its power between the 7th and the 6th centuries BC. About 20,000 people lived in the town at that time, some ports were built on the coast and a lot of skilled Greek painters and local artists were engaged by some rich Etruscan families to decorate their tombs. In fact, the necropolis of Monterozzi is Tarquinia’s main tourist attraction. Monterozzi is the most important burial-ground with some 150 painted tombs. Of course, there are over 7,000 tombs around Tarquinia, but only 2 % of them are painted. Today, 14 painted tombs are open to public. Located in the Calvario area, a few minutes’ drive from the centre of the modern town, they are a fine example of the Etruscan painters’ability. Among the most remarkable tombs are the Hunting and Fishing Tomb, the Tomb of the Leopards, the Tomb of the Lotus Flower, the Tomb of the Lionesses, the Tomb of the Maiden (Pulcella), the Fustigation Tomb and the Tomb of the Caronti (winged genies). Except for the Tomb of the Caronti (3rd century BC), all the above-mentioned tombs were painted between the 6th and the 5th centuries BC (the so-called archaic period). The funerary chambers are usually decorated with scenes of natural life and banqueting scenes where players, dancers and revellers move frenetically in a dreamlike and magic atmosphere. Everybody seems to be happy and there is no room for sadness and woe. The scenes are sometimes spiced up by erotic games. In the Tomb of the Caronti, instead, the subject is completely different. Some fake doors depicted above the funerary chambers symbolise the passage of the souls to the world of the dead. Each door is guarded by two winged genies (the Caronti) holding a hammer. Now light and joy have given way to darkness and sorrow, and the Etruscan underworld bears a strong resemblance to the Greek Hades. The deceased were usually buried together with many funerary artefacts. Vases, mirrors, brooches, candelabra and many other utensils were laid on the chamber floor and near the body. Today, some of these objects are exhibited in the local museum which contains a rich collection of findings dating from the Iron Age (9th cent. BC) to the Roman period. The museum is housed inside the Vitelleschi palace, a 15th century building where Gothic and neo-classical elements combine to form a very fine structure. The palace is located in the centre of the old town, near the Barriera San Giusto. The most remarkable works of art are the famous terracotta winged hoses (4th-3rd cent. BC), the Bocchoris vase (about 700 BC), some funerary urns of the Villanovan age, golden jewels, coins and a remarkable collection of sarcophagi dated from between the 4th and the 3rd centuries BC. The Sarcophagus of the Magistrate (Laris Pulena), with a long inscription in the Etruscan language, and the Parthunu family’s sarcophagi, are well worth a mention here.
Testo: A.G.Tur. di Viterbo
dati e immagini Amm.ne Prov. di Viterbo