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Great golden fibula, 675-650 BC
necklace from the Regolini-Galassi tomb 675-650 BC
Gold pectoral from the Regolini-Galassi tomb, ca. 650 BC
Silver vessel, 650 BC

The Regolini-Galassi tomb is one of the richest Etruscan family tombs in Caere, an ancient city in Italy approximately 50–60 kilometres (31–37 mi) north-northwest of Rome. It dates to between 650 and 600 BC, probably 640s BC. It was built by a wealthy family and stocked with bronze cauldrons and gold jewellery of Etruscan origin in Oriental style.[1][2] The tomb was discovered in 1836 in modern-day Cerveteri in an undisturbed condition and named after the excavators, general Vincenzo Galassi and the archpriest of Cerveteri, Alessandro Regolini.[3]


Silver vessel, 650 BC

The tomb contains two burial chambers, located either side of a corridor 120 feet (37 m) long and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide.[4] The lower portion of the tomb is cut into the tufa rock while the upper portion is built with square stone blocks, which has created an overhang resulting from the stone blocks extending one above the other.[4][3] It is covered with a 150 feet (46 m) tumulus.[4] The tumulus covers the entire structure giving it a facade of a monument.[3] After the archaeological excavations of the tomb, the antiquities it contained were initially securely kept in a room in the residence of General Galassi, a key official of the papal army. They were then sold to the Vatican.[5]

Excavations at the site unearthed a royal woman buried in the end cell and a cremated man in the right-hand cell, and a wealth of items, including gold jewels, silverware, gilded and bronze ware, and a chariot. Also found on the bronze bed in an annex chamber was the body of one more person, whose identity has remained an unexplained mystery.[3] Several of the items display seventh century BC Villanovan decorative motifs, including a great fibula, adorned with five tiny lions depicted striding across its surface,[2] and a large 25 cm long plaque, decorated with depictions of animals of Eastern origin.[6] The fibula has been acclaimed as masterful in technique.

Orientalizing influences are prominent in the tomb, fusing Etruscan customs with those of Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean.[2] The use of many materials in the items including iron, tin, copper, silver and gold illustrates the importance of mineral wealth in the area which saw Villanovan settlements develop from poor agricultural villages into thriving cities.[7]


  1. ^ Haynes, Sybille (1 September 2005). Etruscan Civilization: A Cultural History. Getty Publications. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-89236-600-2. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Kleiner, Fred S. (8 January 2009). Gardner's Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Cengage Learning. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-495-57360-9. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "Regolini Galassi Tomb". Collections Online. Vatican Museums. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Boatwright, Mary; Gargika, Daniel; Lenski, Noel; Talbert, Richard (2012). "Archaic Italy and the Origins of Rome". The Romans: From Village to Empire (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 11–112. ISBN 978-0-19-973057-5.
  5. ^ "Virtual reconstruction of the Regolini-Galassi Tomb". Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  6. ^ Bonfante, Larissa (1 August 1986). Etruscan Life and Afterlife: A Handbook of Etruscan Studies. Wayne State University Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-8143-1813-3. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  7. ^ Kleiner, Fred S. (12 February 2010). A History of Roman Art: Enhanced Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-495-90987-3. Retrieved 15 January 2013.

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