• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Treasure-filled tomb of Etruscan 'princess' unearthed
The tomb of a possible Etruscan princess has been found in Italy. Photo: Archeological site of Vulci

Treasure-filled tomb of Etruscan 'princess' unearthed

Patrick Browne · 9 Mar 2016, 12:43

Published: 09 Mar 2016 12:43 GMT+01:00

The ancient tomb was found in a burial chamber three metres below the ground in front of the ticket office at the archaeological site of Vulci in Lazio, which was once an important Etruscan city.

But historians faced a race against time to stop the treasure from being pilfered by illegal diggers.

“We had no idea the tomb was there, but carried out an emergency dig last month after we noticed looters had excavated another tomb that was above the princess's tomb,” 45 year-old site worker Tecla Del Papa told The Local.

“The robbers had revealed, but not entered, the tomb below, so thanks to them, we were able to quickly find the burial chamber and quickly excavate it,” she added.

Inside the tomb, archaeologists found the bones of a young girl wrapped in a fragile cloth.

Her remains were surrounded by valuable jewellery, pots and jars, some of which had been acquired on the international market.

She had been buried with a Phoenecian amber necklace and two Egyptian scarabs made of gold, ivory and silver -  beautiful and highly elaborate pieces that attest to the artistic prowess of the ancients and the wide extent of the seafaring Etruscans' trade links.

They also mean the grave belonged to someone very important.

"Certainly such items lead us to believe that she was a princess, if not someone very important in society,” Del Papa added.

Archaeologists are now trying to discover who the young girl was and what kind of life she lived 2,800 years ago.

The items have been taken to an on-site laboratory for restoration and will be on display for visitors to Vulci this summer. More extensive digs at the grave site are planned for April.

The mysterious Etruscans, a collection of pre-Roman tribes in Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria have fascinated archaeologists for centuries.

Story continues below…

But very little is still known about them.

At the ancient city of Vulci, 80km north of Rome, more than 15,000 tombs have already been excavated, shedding light on the lost civilization and revealing countless treasures.

But looters still represent a huge problem for Italian heritage. According to one Italian prosecutor, artworks from more than 100,000 raided tombs worth in excess of €460 million have been illegally taken out of the country.  

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Patrick Browne (patrick.browne@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Euro 2016
Italy dump Spain out of Euro 2016 with 2-0 win
Graziano Pelle scored the second goal. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle scored the goals as Italy exacted revenge for their Euro 2012 final hammering by dumping Spain out of Euro 2016 with a deserved 2-0 last 16 win in Paris on Monday.

British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
Photos: AFP

British business owners in Italy are rightly feeling jittery over Brexit.

Unseen papers of Mussolini's last meeting go to auction
Papers revealing the minuites of Mussolini's last meeting are set to go under the hammer in Italy. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The never-before-seen papers are expected to fetch upwards of €25,000.

Brexit
EU must act quickly due to 'gravity' of Brexit: Renzi
Italian prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has called on the EU to act swiftly following the UK's vote to leave the EU. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

"The last thing Europe needs is to start a year-long discussion on (the negotiation) procedures."

Ancient Roman fugitives' bones found in Pompeii shop
The four skeletons died in AD 79. Photo: Archaeological site of Pompeii

The skeletons belong to ancient Romans who died while fleeing the volcanic eruption which destroyed the city.

Brexit
Italy: Heed Brexit wake-up call and end austerity
Premier Matteo Renzi said his demand for greater flexibility on the bloc's budget rules had been made more urgent. Photo: Thierry Charler/AFP

"Austerity policies are clouding the horizon. They have turned the future into a threat. They have given fear a push."

Refugee crisis
More than 3,300 migrants rescued off Libya
Over 10,000 migrants have been rescued since Thursday. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

More than 10,000 migrants have been saved since Thursday.

Milan-bound flight catches fire upon emergency landing
The Singapore Airlines aircraft, its starboard wing charred from an engine fire, is towed across the tarmac at Changi airport. Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP

A Singapore Airlines plane caught fire on Monday while making an emergency landing at Changi Airport after turning back from a flight to Milan following an engine oil warning message, the carrier said.

Italy hails mafia killer's arrest as historic
Fazzalari was convicted in absentia in 1999 of mafia association, kidnapping, illegal possession of weapons and a double homicide. Photo: Italian police

A convicted killer who was one of Italy's most wanted mafia bosses was arrested Sunday in an operation hailed by prosecutors as a historic breakthrough in the fight against organised crime.

Pope visits Armenian genocide memorial
Francis laid a wreath and prayed at the Tsitsernakaberd site. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis on Saturday issued a rallying cry to protect memory at the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan, on day two of a trip likely to stir tensions with Turkey.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
Culture
Italian restaurant crowned the best in the world
Travel
Ten breathtaking Italian gems you've never heard of
National
Eritrean held in Italy denies being trafficking kingpin
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Health
Italian man 'turns French' after brain injury
Travel
Six reasons why South Tyrol will absolutely blow your mind
National
Why Italy's facing another tough summer
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
Politics
Five reasons Rome's mayoral elections actually matter
Travel
Ten Airbnb apartments where you'll feel at home in Rome
Politics
Quiz: Silvio Berlusconi versus Donald Trump - who said it?
National
Crew who sunk with WWII sub 'wanted to be found': relative
Culture
Why the average ancient Roman worker was dead by 30
Did a Nazi official save Ponte Vecchio from destruction?
National
How the brutal murder of an anti-mafia hero altered Sicily
Travel
These are the best beaches within easy reach of Rome
National
Why Italians are falling out of love with the EU
Business & Money
Foreign, female and a self-made success in arduous Italy
2,526
jobs available