|Fibula (30 cm long, 7th c. B.C.)|
|Banditaccia necropolis, Cerveteri|
In the centuries when Rome and Etruria coexisted, before Rome gained the ascendancy and conquered the Etruscan cities and eventually absorbed the Etruscan people, there was a time when Cerveteri was in closer cahoots with Rome than were the other Etruscan cities. (What exactly is a cahoot, anyway? Anybody know?) In fact, in the year 390 B.C., Rome, under threat of invasion from the Gauls, sent the Vestal Virgins to Cerveteri to keep them safe until the danger was past. In recognition of that service, Rome awarded Caere honorary citizenship (though without voting rights). The special relationship deteriorated not too many years afterwards.
|The Banditaccia necropolis|
Here's a look inside a few of those tombs:
There are many simple tombs, of a single chamber, but the great burial mounds tend to contain more complex family tombs, consisting of a corridor (dromos), a central hall, and perhaps several attached chambers where bodies were laid to rest.
|A row of simple "dice" or "cube" tombs|
|A chambered tomb|
One extraordinary tomb, the Tomb of the Reliefs, located in the Banditaccia necropolis, has given scholars a lot of information about Etruscan daily life, because it depicts so many everyday articles carved in relief - coils of rope, tools, utensils, cushions, even house pets. Everything one could possibly wish for in a well-furnished afterlife.
|Tomb of the Reliefs|
"There is a stillness and a softness in these great grassy mounds with their ancient stone girdles, and down the central walk there lingers still a kind of homeliness and happiness. True, it was a still and sunny afternoon in April, and larks rose from the soft grass of the tombs. But there was a stillness and a soothingness in all the air, in that sunken place, and a feeling that it was good for one's soul to be there."
Images in this post: Tomb of the Reliefs photo released to public domain by the photographer; all others are our own photos.