Tarquinia Etruscan Necropolis

Tarquinia, Italy

Tarquinia is known chiefly for its outstanding and unique ancient Etruscan tombs in the widespread necropoli or cemeteries which it overlies. Tarquinia has been awarded as UNESCO World Heritage status with near Cerveteri.

The ancient burial grounds (necropoli), dating from the Iron Age (9th century BC, or Villanovan period) to Roman times, were on the adjacent promontories including that of today's Tarquinia. It was one of the most ancient and important Etruscan cities.

The main necropolis of Tarchuna, part of which can be visited today, is the Monterozzi necropolis with some 6,000 tombs, at least 200 of which include beautiful wall paintings, and many of which were tumulus tombs with chambers carved in the rock below.

The painted scenes are of a quality virtually unrivalled elsewhere in the Etruscan world and give a valuable insight into the secretive world of the Etruscans which is rarely documented. They show banquets with dances and music, sporting events, occasional erotic and mythical scenes. In the late period underworld demons escorting the dead on their journey to the beyond including scenes in the nether world were depicted, and also processions of magistrates and other symbols of the rank of the eminent members of the families buried there.

Famous tombs include the Tomb of the Bulls, Tomb of the Augurs and the Tomb of the Leopards.

During the second half of the 4th century sculpted and painted sarcophagi of nenfro, marble and alabaster came into use. They were deposited on rock-carved benches or against the walls in the by then very large underground chambers. Sarcophagi continued until the second century and are found in such numbers at Tarquinia that they must have been manufactured locally.

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Founded: 800 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

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User Reviews

Cath Campbell (6 years ago)
Amazing tombs and paintings. Well worth a visit.
Dave Brandman (6 years ago)
A large burial where Etruscans in pre-Roman times buried there dead in large vaults. Over 4000 vaults have been discovered. The limestone rock was particularly good at preserving the frescoes painted on the Rock walls.
David Kenny (6 years ago)
Good place to see illustrated Etruscan burial tombs. Some better than others regarding the quality and detail of the wall paintings. A shame that some are behind virtually opaque condensated glass doors. No maps to enable filtering of best tombs unless you pay €4 for audio guide. Lots of steep narrow steps to negotiate. Staff attitude indifferent to customers. Just too much bother.
Panteleimon Sokhadze (6 years ago)
Perfect touristic attractions and one of the most important places for Etruscan studies. All of the gtaves and tombs are perfectly visible.
claire c (6 years ago)
An interesting site, but not always easy to see the paintings as they are down narrow stairs behind glass covered in condensation. The number of tombs is impressive, but the ones at Cerveteri give a much better idea of what the burial sites were like. If you go by public transport, the last bus passes at 5.20.
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