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The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again


The restoration of the central chamber of the Tomb of the Shields, an artistic jewel of the fourth century BC in the Etruscan Necropolis of Monterozzi in Tarquinia (VT), which in 2004 was nominated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO together with the necropolis of Cerveteri, has been completed.

The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
Credit: C. Domenico-Ventura


The wall paintings and the rare epigraphs in the Etruscan language that decorate this important noble tomb from the Hellenistic period have regained their splendour after a complex restoration that lasted two years thanks to the contribution of the Italian Environmental Fund through the campaign "The places of the heart".

The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
Credit: C. Domenico-Ventura
The richly painted walls of the tomb's central chamber were beginning to deteriorate due to temperature fluctuations within the closed space. Not only was the friable plaster starting to detach from the walls, the wall surfaces were coated with a white patina of calcium carbonate produced by different types of bacteria, and patches of humidity and numerous black spots caused by certain species of fungus began to appear.

The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
Credit: C. Domenico-Ventura


The 'Tomb of the Shields' is a typical example of a noble burial crypt from the early Hellenistic period, dating back to 350 BC, and is one of the largest Etruscan tombs in Tarquinia. The plan of the tomb imitates that of a house with a central atrium with three rooms, one at the rear and one on each side; the central room and the room at the rear have decorations of considerable interest, characteristic of the pictorial themes of the great noble tombs of the Hellenistic period.

The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
Credit: C. Domenico-Ventura
The paintings, strongly expressive, are intended to celebrate the virtues and status of the Velcha family - owners of the tomb, and powerful 'gens tarquiniese' - by portraying the moment of departure of the deceased to the afterlife and the funeral banquet in which all members of the family attended. The importance of the pictorial decorations is also remarkable for the presence of inscriptions painted in Etruscan with the names and surnames of the people represented and their 'cursus honorum' - that is, the list of their respective positions of prestige.


The restoration - begun in the summer of 2016 and carried out by Maria Cristina Tomassetti and Chiara Arrighi under the supervision of the Superintendence - has not only enabled the preservation of the still extant frescoes of the central chamber of the tomb but has also revealed figures, inscriptions and details never seen before.

The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
Credit: C. Domenico-Ventura


The intervention was carried out in the form of an 'open site': the tomb was in fact made available to the public during the work via guided tours by the FAI Delegation in Viterbo which explained the phases of restoration and the techniques used.

The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
The 'Tomb of the Shields' in Tarquinia shines again
Credit: C. Domenico-Ventura
Once the ceiling of the central chamber - which is the most important room of the tomb - has been restored, work will shift to the rear chamber which is decorated with the shields from which the tomb takes its name, and on the two small unadorned lateral rooms.

Source: FAI [September 16, 2018]

TANN

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