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Sci/Tech Archeology
Sci/Tech: Two Thousand Year Old Etruscan Tomb Discovered
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Wednesday, 15 August 2007 Written by Elena Gwynne

Yesterday in Tuscany archaeologists discovered a perfectly preserved Etruscan tomb dating to some time between the first and third centuries B.C.E, or nearing the end of the Etruscan period. According to Reuters, finding an intact tomb of this sort is extremely rare.

Located in the town of Civitella Paganico, the first suggestion that there was a tomb in the area came when roadwork nearby uncovered fragments of artifacts. At that point, the archaeologists thought it meant that the tomb had been, in the team leader's words, violated. Instead, they found yesterday that the main burial room was intact.

Found within the tomb were around eighty objects, including thirty burial urns that still contained human remains. From the size, some of the urns are thought to have held the remains of children. Other objects discovered in the tomb included mirrors of both ceramic and bronze as well as vases. Tombs containing the remains of many people were common to the Etruscan people, so far as archaeologists can tell. Some of these tombs were designed and decorated in such a way as to replicate houses and buildings, and often the tombs were grouped together to form necropoleis, or cities for the dead.

Described as a small burial chamber (2 meters by 1.79 meters wide) at the end of a narrow corridor, the tomb does not seem to have been part of a group, as the mounds are generally quite visible. Nor is the tomb described as being decorated in any way.

The Etruscan civilization has been dated to the period between 1000 B.C.E. and 100 B.C.E., overlapping the later Romans. Their civilization centered on the regions of Tuscany and Umbria. To date, aside from a few words, the Etruscan language has yet to be deciphered. What little we have of it remaining today comes mostly from tomb inscriptions and the like, although according to Roman writers, they had a thriving corpus of literature.

Most of the information we have on the Etruscans comes from burial sites such as this one, which were decorated lavishly with sculptures and frescoes, as well as vases and other objects.

The site excavation began in late July and is being overseen by the Tuscan Archaeological Superintendent's Department according to Science Daily.

Just about two months ago, the Etruscan civilization made the news when archaeologists finally discovered the origins of this mysterious people.