Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Etruscan burials in the Cortona (Italy) Archaeological Park

Originally an Umbrian city, Cortona was conquered then enlarged by the Etruscans, who called it Curtun. During the 7th century BCE, it joined the Etruscan League. Cortona eventually became a Roman colony under the name Corito. It was sacked and destroyed in the final stages of the Gothic War (535-554 CE).

The Cortona Archaeological Park includes three excavated Etruscan burial mounds. Tumulo I contains five burial chambers.  It was initially constructed in the 6th century BCE but was later reused in the 4th century BCE for a man named Arnt Mefanates and his wife Velia Hapisnei. Tumulo II contains two tombs fronted by a platform-altar with a staircase of ten steps and a sculpted balustrade depicting palm trees and a fight between a lioness and a warrior. The original sculptures are displayed in the local archaeological museum. Of the two tombs found within this tumulus, tomb 1, built between 580-560 BCE, is characterized by a long access corridor leading to two rectangular vestibules with six burial chambers.  The second tomb of the complex was not discovered until 1991.  It dates back to about 480 BCE and is constructed with just two simple burial chambers.  However, here archaeologists found stone sarcophagi and funerary urns in addition to a hundred pieces of extremely refined gold smithing: various necklaces, pendants, earrings and rings.

In 2005, an area referred to as the orientalizing necropolis dating back to the 7th-6th centuries BCE was uncovered.  It contained two groups of tombs delimited by circles of sandstone slabs on a stone foundation of slabs placed sideways and reinforced by river pebbles. The tombs that have been found, mostly “coffer” and trench tombs, were still intact for the most part including their preserved grave goods, mostly pottery.

If you request permission, you may also visit the ongoing excavation of the Roman Villa of Ossaia,  a villa rustica of the Late-Republican-Imperial Age inhabited from the second half of the 1st century to the 5th century CE. There, a variety of both black and white and polychrome mosaics have been found, some displayed in the local archaeological museum.

For more information and images see: https://www.cortonaweb.net/en/archaeological-park/ 

Image: Ornate bronze helmet recovered from Cortona, Arezzo, Italy photographed in the special exhibit, "Restoring History: The Dawn of Etruscan Princes" by Egisto Sani (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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