Necropolis of Monterozzi at Tarquinia

Located at 20 km from Civitavecchia and 80 from Rome, the Necropolis of Monterozzi at Tarquinia has been a UNESCO site since 2004. It extends for 75 hectares and houses about 200 sepulchres. What is most impressive about this site is the enormous quantity of painted decorations, extremely helpful in understanding the evolution of the Etruscan civilization.

Here, we can enter their homes, watch them eating, as they feast, reclining on their klinai, while musicians played and naked slaves served them delicacies. The paintings “photograph” the real lives of the Etruscan people and accompany the deceased on their journey into the afterlife. Today we can visit the Tombs of the Hunter, of the Jugglers, of the Flagellation, of the Lotus Flower, of the Lionesses, of the Gorgoneion, of the Leopards, of the Bacchantes, of Hunting and Fishing…

Among the most famous is the  Tomb of the Lionesses, dating from the 4th century, which consists of a small chamber with a two-sloped roof. The painting features birds flying and dolphins ping around scenes from the life of Etruscan aristocrats. 

In the heart of the necropolis, on a plateau overlooking the coastal plain, lies the Doganaccia archaeological site, notable for the towering pair of massive burial mounds commonly known as “the King’s and the Queen’s”, which date back to the first half of the 7th century BC. This is Tarquinia’s largest funeral monument (40 metres in diameter), constructed to reflect the social standing of the deceased and his family; the Etruscan upper class used this type of tomb as a demonstration of their wealth and power.

The “King’s” tumulus was explored in 1928 and, despite having been looted, part of its ceramic contents and the remains of a nobleman’s carriage have been preserved; the tomb features a long rectangular-shaped burial chamber, only half-constructed since a rock face acted as part of the walls, reached via a wide open-air entranceway, so wide as to be defined a “small square”, which would have been used for funeral ceremonies. Entry to the Tarquinia Necropolis is included in the ticket for the National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia in Palazzo Vitelleschi.

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