Posted by: Angela Buer | January 28, 2009

Etruscan Necropolis at Crocifisso del Tufo, Orvieto, Italy

The Etruscans originated in central Italy around 900 B.C.E. and were absorbed into the Roman Empire in the 80s B.C.E. They developed the earliest complex society in Italy. The Etruscans lived in
city-states, as the Greeks, and had a sophisticated agricultural and craft economy. The Etruscan religion was distinctive as well as their social, political structures and
language. One of the last remaining Etruscan cities absorbed by the Romans was the settlement at Orvieto, whose citizens were sent to nearby Lake Bolsena.

This
necropolis is set in an archaeological park at the base of the large tufa hill, atop which is Orvieto. It consists of a
series of small chamber tombs. The
arrangement follows a “town” plan and is built from blocks of tufa, which is volcanic rock.


The Tombs are marked with “cippi” atop the tomb mounds.

The entrances of the tombs are inscribed with the name of the deceased on their lintels.


The
necropolis takes its name from the 16th-century crucifix which is kept in a little chapel underlying the San Giovenale area.

Only a part of the necropolis was expropriated by the State
and open to the public. An amazing site to tour, it gives the wanderer a real sense of the Etruscan burial rituals.

The outstanding feature of the necropolis is its layout, following that of the “town plan”, as its roads are laid out at right angles and dividing
the area into lots.
The tombs are grouped into blocks, and most of them consist of single, rectangular chambers with inscriptions incised
into the entrance lintels. These inscriptions name of the owner of the tomb and combines different languages, showing the diversity of Etruscan societies.

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