Monday, October 19, 2015

Tarquinia - Etruscan City

On our way from Rome to Orvieto, we stopped in the outskirts of Tarquinia, a major city in Etruria around the 7th century B.C.  That's before the rise of the Roman Empire.  OK, so I was awestruck in the Coliseum; here I couldn't even begin to comprehend how old the tombs we came here to see were.

Yes, we were there to visit an ancient necropolis, or city of the dead.  I have photographs, but the quality is poor.  The day was overcast, the tombs were underground, and the decorated chambers were protected against entry with heavy, usually yellowed or scratched plexiglas.  But the first thing we saw was this - our first pomegranate tree.  We would see several during our trip, but as our first, this was a thrill.

Below the tombs you see are simple and probably for people of moderate means who were cremated and buried in a hole.  Then these "structures" were placed over the remains.  In the background you can see some modern, small buildings which mark the entrance to more elaborate, underground tombs.

The names given the tombs are descriptive.  Since the names of the individuals buried here aren't known, using a description of the illustrations in the tomb as a way of identifying them makes sense.  Below is the Tomb of the Leopards.  On the right, you can see a reclining man, a banqueter who has an egg (a symbol of life) in his out-stretched hand.  (By the way, my information comes from the descriptors outside the tombs ((I take pictures of them)) and/or from a book we bought while there.) 
Notice the leopards up near the peak of the ceiling and the fish leaping out of the water below.

This is as much of the left side of the same chamber as I could get.  The party continues with another reclining man who has a bowl and a ring (the source says it's to be used in a game).

This next one is called the Hunting Pavilion, and I love the animal near the ceiling.  The panther(?), his coloration, and almost human face is intriguing.

The frieze of horses looks like Greek pottery, and you can also see that this part of the ceiling.  It's a checkerboard design.

I wish this picture were of better quality as this "feeding deer" is truly very lovely.  Since this "pavilion" is painted to simulate a tent, I guess the deer is being seen at a distance through an open flap in the tent.

And now I will let you read about this next two from the descriptor outside the tomb.  You won't be able to see everything described.  Naturally we couldn't enter the tombs so it wasn't possible to get a straight-on shot of the side walls, but I hope that by clicking on the photos to enlarge them, you'll get a sense of what we saw.

Finally, the clouds were gathering though we were in the snack area getting lunch when it rained briefly on one side of the rest area but not on the other where we were!  

You can see the path dividing and stretching on to still more tombs, but we elected to move on to our next destination since we still had a way to go before we would get to Orvieto, our next destination.


  1. I had never seen pomegranates on a tree before! And those "headstones" look like a field of mushrooms from far away. All that painting is just beautiful. Seems like art is VERY important in Italy - and it also looks like people have pride in their art. It's all so very, very wonderful.

  2. I never came across any structures like these tombs. It's amazing that they still stand. If would be interesting to know whether they are periodically restored. After all 2 and half thousand years is a long time.