Monterozzi necropolis

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Monterozzi necropolis
Necropoli dei Monterozzi
Tarquinia Tomb of the Leopards.jpg
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Shown within Italy
Location Tarquinia, Lazio, Italy
Region Etruria
Coordinates 42°15′02″N11°46′12″E / 42.25056°N 11.77000°E / 42.25056; 11.77000 Coordinates: 42°15′02″N11°46′12″E / 42.25056°N 11.77000°E / 42.25056; 11.77000
Type Necropolis
Founded7th century BC
Site notes
ManagementSoprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Etruria Meridionale
Website Museum and Necropolis of Tarquinia and Cerveteri
Official nameEtruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia
Criteriai, iii, iv
Designated2004 (28th session)
Reference no. 1158
Region Europe and North America

The Monterozzi necropolis (Italian : Necropoli dei Monterozzi) is an Etruscan necropolis on a hill east of Tarquinia in Lazio, Italy. The necropolis has about 6,000 graves, the oldest of which dates to the 7th century BC. About 200 of the gravestones are decorated with frescos. [1]


The painted tombs of the necropolis are the largest documentation of Etruscan pictorial art, and they are singular testaments to Etruscans' quotidian life, ceremonies, and mythology. [2] Some of the tombs are monumental, cut in rock and topped by tumuli, accessible by means of inclined corridors or stairways. Many different subjects are shown in the frescos, including rituals, animals, magical themes, dance and musical instruments. The best known tombs are the Tomb of the Leopards, of Hunting and Fishing, of the Augurs, of the Triclinium, the Blue Demons and of the Bulls.

Many of the artifacts found in the necropolis and some of the frescos have been brought to the neighboring Tarquinia National Museum in order to preserve them. [3] The paintings and wall decorations of the Tomb of the Baron, discovered in 1827, were also reproduced on the walls of the so-called Etruscan Cabinet in the Castle of Racconigi.

Along with the Banditaccia Necropolis, Monterozzi was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, notable as "the depiction of daily life in the frescoed tombs, many of which are replicas of Etruscan houses, is a unique testimony to this vanished culture". [4]


Buildings now replace the surface mounds (tumuli) to protect the subterranean tombs. Foreground: early Villanovan tombs UrnesMonterozzi.jpg
Buildings now replace the surface mounds (tumuli) to protect the subterranean tombs. Foreground: early Villanovan tombs
Painted Etruscan Sarcophagus from a tomb Tarquinia (15).jpg
Painted Etruscan Sarcophagus from a tomb

The burial ground dates from the Iron Age, or Villanovan period (9th century BC), up to Roman times. From the Villanovan period simple round tombs carved from rock for cremation burials can be seen at the site.

Towards the end of the 8th c. BC, the first funerary chambers appeared as family tombs due to the rise to power of an aristocracy. These appeared on the surface as tumuli, sometimes assuming impressive proportions to enhance the power and prestige of the nobles, as can be seen especially in the so-called King and Queen tombs. There were about 600 tumuli still visible in the 19th century, following which many were razed after excavation.

The tumuli usually covered subterranean chambers carved into the rock, containing sarcophagi and personal possessions of the deceased, and many of which have wall paintings.

The earliest sarcophagi are carved with the image of the deceased supine on the lid. The later and more numerous types show him or her reclining on the left side, facing the spectator and frequently holding a libation vessel; occasionally a man displays an inscribed scroll listing his ancestry and the magisterial offices he occupied. During the second half of the 4th century BC 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 now very large underground chambers. [5]

Sarcophagi were also decorated with reliefs of symbolic or mythological content, often derived from Tarentine models. Sarcophagi of this type, which continue until the second century, are found in such numbers at Tarquinia that they must have been manufactured locally. The walls of the tomb-chambers of the late period are painted with underworld demons escorting the dead on their journey to the beyond, scenes in the nether world, processions of magistrates and other symbols of the rank of the eminent members of the families buried there. [5]

Among the most notable painted tombs famous for the artistic quality of their frescoes are:

See also

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Tomb of the Whipping Etruscan tomb

The Tomb of the Whipping is an Etruscan tomb in the Necropolis of Monterozzi near Tarquinia, Italy. It is dated to approximately 490 BC and named after a fresco of two men who flog a woman in an erotic context. The tomb was discovered and excavated in 1960 by Carlo Maurilio Lerici. Most of the paintings are badly damaged.

Tomb of the Leopards Etruscan burial complex

The Tomb of the Leopards is an Etruscan burial chamber so called for the confronted leopards painted above a banquet scene. The tomb is located within the Necropolis of Monterozzi and dates to around 480–450 BC. The painting is one of the best-preserved murals of Tarquinia, and is known for "its lively coloring, and its animated depictions rich with gestures."

Tomb of the Bulls Etruscan archaic tomb in Tarquinia

The Tomb of the Bulls is an Etruscan tomb in the Necropolis of Monterozzi near Tarquinia, Italy. It was discovered in 1892 and has been dated back to either 540–530 BC or 530–520 BC. According to an inscription Arath Spuriana apparently commissioned the construction of the tomb. It is named after the two bulls which appear on one of its frescoes. It is the earliest example of a tomb with complex frescoes in the necropolis.

Tomb of Hunting and Fishing Etruscan late archaic tomb in Tarquinia

The Tomb of Hunting and Fishing, formerly known as the Tomb of the Hunter, is an Etruscan tomb in the Necropolis of Monterozzi near Tarquinia, Italy. It was discovered in 1873 and has been dated variously to about 530–520 BC, 520 BC, 510 BC or 510–500 BC. Stephan Steingräber calls it "unquestionably one of the most beautiful and original of the Tarquinian tombs from the Late Archaic period." R. Ross Holloway emphasizes the reduction of humans to small figures in a large natural environment. There were no precedents for this in Ancient Greek art or in the Etruscan art it influenced. It was a major development in the history of ancient painting.

Tomb of the Triclinium Etruscan tomb in the Necropolis of Monterozzi near Tarquinia, Italy

The Tomb of the Triclinium or the Funereal Bed is an Etruscan tomb in the Necropolis of Monterozzi near Tarquinia, Italy. It was discovered in 1830. Stefan Steingraber, Associate Professor at the Italian Research University 'Roma Tre', dates the tomb to approximately 470 BC and calls it one of the most famous of all Etruscan tombs. He considers the artistic quality of the tomb's frescoes to be superior to those of most other Etruscan tombs. The tomb is named after the triclinium, the formal dining room which appears in the frescoes of the tomb.

Tarquinia National Museum Archaeological museum in Lazio, Italy

The Tarquinia National Museum is an archaeological museum dedicated to the Etruscan civilization in Tarquinia, Italy. Its collection consists primarily of the artifacts which were excavated from the Necropolis of Monterozzi to the east of the city. It is housed in the Palazzo Vitelleschi.

Tomb of the Blue Demons Etruscan tomb

The Tomb of the Blue Demons is an Etruscan tomb in the Necropolis of Monterozzi near Tarquinia, Italy. It was discovered in 1985. The tomb is named after the blue and black-skinned demons which appear in an underworld scene on the right wall. The tomb has been dated to the end of the fifth century BC.

Tomb of the Augurs Etruscan burial chamber

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Etruscan architecture architecture of the Etruscan civilization

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<i>Morgan Amber</i> miscellaneous-amber highlighted in The MET collection

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  1. "Monterozzi, Etruscan Necropolis". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  2. "Palazzo Vitelleschi". Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Etruria Meridionale. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
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