Treasure-filled tomb of Etruscan ‘princess’ unearthed

A treasure-filled tomb, believed to belong to an an Etruscan princess from the eighth century BC, has been unearthed by archaeologists in Italy.

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

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.

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.  

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?