Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Etruscan necropolises at Tarquinia

On the left you can see The National Museum of Tarquinia (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Tarquinia) in a 15th century Palazzo. It has an excellent collection of Etruscan and Greek art.

Inside the museum are many Etruscan Tombs.

This tomb was set up so you can see it's 3 sides together.

In a second story courtyard we saw these beautiful terra cotta tombs. We had been to this museum on a visit 8 years ago and these tombs were new. They all seemed to have a split down the middle of them.

Just inside the arm resting underneath this figure you could see a hole - it appears that parts of the terra cotta are hollow.

The Necropolis is a short walk from the city of Tarquinia. The covers guard against moisture, and once inside these little huts, down a set of 20 or 30 steps you come to an opening where you can view the interiors of the tombs. The modern door to the tomb had half a glass opening and nearby is a light switch to turn on the light to view the tomb.

Here I am at the bottom of the stairwell with the door to the tomb behind me. Below you see one of the nifty signs warning you not to bump your head at the bottom.

They weren't kidding - it was a tight fit at the bottom of many of these tombs. We must have explored about 15 of the tombs - that's a lot of stairs to climb!

Here's a view inside one of the tombs. The paintings are incredible. Inside, with the help of the artificial light, the paintings and interiors seemed to glow. A glimpse into the underworld. The tombs are a little 'house' shaped hollow carved out as a final resting place.

Down and up into such a beautiful day. The contrast was breathtaking.

It took a bit of courage to go down the path to the tomb opening above.

The tombs and paintings (two above and two below) were open by appointment only. We took the tour of four newly opened tombs - this one had some of the terra cotta tombs inside. You could see that the necropolis had been used by a family for generations by the different coffin styles - from the early rough limestone tombs, to the more realistic terra cotta style.

More photos showing the contrast of the glorius day and the dark tombs.

A photo of two people who were on the special tour with us. You can see how tight the view into the tombs was. It was a squeeze for two people to view at the same time.

On the left of this photo is our bus stop. We spent an entire day in Tarquinia and as we waited for the bus the sunlight turned that awesome Italian color and the pigeons started to roost in the building behind us. It was an entirely delightful and interesting day.

Here are some links if you are interested in reading a bit about Tarquinia.


Robyn said...

Oh those old weathered tomb paintings are soooo beautiful.

Dayna Collins said...

Oh my, wish we could have visited the tombs on our recent trip to Italy, but as we kept telling ourselves, "we can't see everything." Thanks for sharing so I could visit! Dayna