Skip to comments.Man Leads Archaeologists To Frescoed Tomb (Europe's Oldest)
Posted on 06/16/2006 2:21:35 PM PDT by blam
Man Leads Archaeologists to Frescoed Tomb
Suspected Tomb Raider Leads Archaeologists to Frescoed Tomb North of Rome; May Be Europe's Oldest.
This photo provided by the Italian Ministry of Culture on Friday, June 16, 2006 shows a frescoed burial decorated with migratory birds, in the town of Veio, near Rome. Experts on Friday, June 16, 2006 described the tomb as the oldest known frescoed burial chamber in Europe. It belonged to a warrior prince from the nearby Etruscan town of Veio, and dates back to 690 B.C.(AP Photo/Courtesy of Ministry of Culture, HO)
VEIO, Italy Jun 16, 2006 (AP) A suspected tomb raider turned police informant has led archaeologists to what experts described Friday as the oldest known frescoed burial chamber in Europe.
The tomb, located on a hilly wheat field north of Rome, belonged to a warrior prince from the nearby Etruscan town of Veio, according to archaeologists who took journalists on a tour of the site.
Dating from around 690 B.C., the underground burial chamber is decorated with roaring lions and migratory birds.
"This princely tomb is unique and it marks the origin of Western painting," said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli, referring to the ancient art of burial painting.
Authorities were led to the site in May by an Italian on trial for trafficking in illegally excavated artifacts. He revealed the location of the tomb in hopes of gaining leniency from the court, said Carabinieri Gen. Ugo Zottin.
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Gen Ugo Zottin? IBTZottin? Bwahahahaha!
Gen Ugo Zottin? IBTZottin? Bwahahahaha!
Drat, sorry about the double posting;-)
um...uh...to get to the other side?!
The city's name is Veii in Latin...there was a long war between Rome and Veii which ended with the destruction of Veii in 396 B.C. A lot of the best examples of Etruscan art were found there.
To show the armadillo that it could be done.
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Thanks, blam. The Times had a different headline so i could not find it. This is a big find, it would appear, eh?
duck, duck, goose
VEIO, Italy-- A suspected tomb raider turned police informant has led archaeologists to what experts described yesterday as the oldest known frescoed burial chamber in Europe. The tomb -- located on a hilly wheat field north of Rome -- belonged to a warrior prince from the nearby Etruscan town of Veio, said archaeologists who took journalists on a tour of the site.
Dating from around 690 B.C., the underground burial chamber is decorated with roaring lions and migratory birds. Experts are hailing it as the earliest example of the funerary decorations that would later become common in the Greek and Roman world. "This princely tomb is unique and it marks the origin of Western painting," said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli.
Authorities were led to the site in May by an Italian man on trial for trafficking in illegally excavated artifacts. He revealed the location of the tomb in hopes of gaining leniency from the court, said Carabinieri Gen. Ugo Zottin, who heads the paramilitary police squad assigned to art theft. Zottin declined to reveal the man's identity or discuss further details of his collaboration.
"Sometimes the smugglers arrive before the archaeologists, but luckily they could not remove the frescoes," Rutelli said. Looters who plundered the tomb overlooked several funerary objects that were hidden from sight by the collapse of part of the chamber's red-painted ceiling. Besides the frescoes, archaeologists have uncovered decorated vases imported from Greece, a sword and metal spits used to roast meat for the prince's table. A two-wheeled bronze chariot was found standing in front of the rounded archway that leads into the burial chamber.
The recovery of elegant broaches, a wool spindle and other objects usually used by females suggests that at least one woman, possibly the prince's wife, was buried in the tomb, said Francesca Boitani, the lead archaeologist on the dig. The urns containing the cremated remains of the tomb's owners, normally placed in one of the chamber's niches, are believed to have been taken by looters, Boitani said. The images of birds and fang-baring felines remain the highlight of what experts are calling "The Tomb of the Roaring Lions."
Although decorated prehistoric caves predate by millennia the Etruscan tomb, experts say it is the oldest example in the Western world of a specially built funerary chamber decorated with mural paintings. "Prehistoric paintings are something else," Boitani said. "Here we see used for the first time the techniques described in ancient texts and used in Western civilization in the following centuries."
Mural paintings have been found in some burial chambers in Turkey, but those date back to the 6th century B.C., while the Etruscan tomb is at least a century older, said Giovanni Colonna, an expert on the Etruscan civilization at Rome's La Sapienza University. The architecture of the tomb, the style of the paintings and the images of lions -- an animal that didn't roam central Italy -- show the builders were influenced by art coming from Greece, Egypt and Asian kingdoms, Colonna said.
Although the same art is used on Greek vases of the time, no decorated tombs from that period have been found in Greece or elsewhere in Europe, he said. The images in the Etruscan tomb were outlined in black and red with paints produced from minerals and archaeologist believe they were fixed on the wall using a compound created by crushing ancient fossils found in the area.
The birds are symbols of the passage into the afterlife, while the lions "represent the horror for what lies beyond life," said Anna Maria Moretti, the superintendent for antiquities in areas around Rome. The surrounding hills are likely to hide further tombs, but a lack of funds means it will be difficult to conduct further digs soon, she said. The prosperous town of Veio rivaled for centuries with Rome -- just 10 miles away -- finally succumbing to the invading legions in 396 B.C., a fate soon shared by the rest of the Etruscan civilization.
Lavish tombs the Etruscans left behind riddle the region north of Rome and their treasures are often prey to looters. Artifacts found in the newly discovered tomb are likely to go to Rome's Villa Giulia Museum, the city's top repository for Etruscan art, Moretti said. Archeologists working to restore the frescoes hope the tomb will be open to the public in the future but no date has been set, she said.
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