Archaeologists Uncover Etruscan Pyramids in Orvieto

Mon, 10/01/2012 - 06:00

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A team of archaeologists have discovered two Etruscan pyramids during excavations of a wine cellar in Orvieto. At least five pyramids, which have never been found in an Etruscan site before, are believed to lie under the city.

While following an ancient staircase that continued past the floor of the cellar, archeologists noted that the walls of the cave were tapering. At a depth of ten feet, a tunnel from the 5th century B.C. or earlier leads to another pyramid, and there is evidence of a system of tunnels running underneath the whole area of the wine cellar.

Claudio Bizzarri of the Orvieto Environmental Archeological Park and David B. George of the Department of Classics at Saint Anselm are leading a team that has excavated through the current cellar floor, which dates back to the mid-20th century, and the Medieval layer below.

Two layers of man-made fill—one filled with Etruscan and Attic pottery shards dating between 400 and 1000 B.C. and one filled with a concrete-like material—separate the tunnels and pyramids from the modern and medieval floors.

Though the Etruscans occupied central Italy for nearly 1000 years before the Romans came to dominance, little is known about their culture, daily lives, or religion due to a lack of archaeological evidence.

According to the project team, the pyramids may represent a new type of Etruscan tomb or religious edifice that can shed light on these issues.