Etruscan tomb unearthed in Perugia
An ancient Etruscan tomb has resurfaced after centuries underground during the course of building work in the central Italian city of Perugia.
The tomb, which has been preserved in excellent condition, contains seven funerary urns, the municipal archaeology department said.
It is in the shape of a square and was covered by a sheet of travertine marble, which had apparently remained untouched since being laid centuries ago.
The tomb is split into two halves by a pillar and there are two benches running along each side.
The funerary urns, which were placed on the benches, were marked with brightly coloured mythological and religious motifs.
A preliminary study suggests that writing on the side of the urns probably refers to a family that was called the Aneis.
In addition to the urns, the tomb also housed the remains of a bronze bed and various pottery shards.
The site was discovered during digging work for a new roundabout in the Strassacapponi neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Umbrian town.
The Etruscans are believed to have formed the first advanced civilisation in Italy, based in an area called Etruria, corresponding largely to present-day Tuscany, Umbria and northern Lazio.
By the sixth century BC they had become the dominant force in central Italy, but repeated attacks from Gauls and Syracusans later forced them into an alliance with the embryonic Roman state, which gradually absorbed Etruscan civilization.
Although the Etruscans had the upper hand in the early days and supplied Rome with the last three of its first seven kings including the famous Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud), the archaeological record of their once sweeping presence in central Italy is scanty compared with that of other civilisations.
Some historians have posited that the Romans actively tried to wipe out the traces of their predecessors, whose sensual and fun-loving approach to life contrasted with the spartan, austere and rigidly patriarchal life of the early Roman republic.
Most of what we know about their civilisation is based largely on archaeological finds, since much of their language has yet to be deciphered.