Each Etruscan archaeological site could be seen with a local guide, and tombs were explored with the aid of acetylene lamps. In , by contrast, the archaeological park at Vulci has an average of 20, visitors per year, and the necropolis in Tarquinia up to , The two central chapters of Etruscan Places focus on the painted tombs of Tarquinia, forming almost half of the volume.
Of those discussed by Lawrence, only six are regularly open to the public today; five are closed, and five can be visited by appointment. The most recently discovered tomb at Tarquinia, the Tomb of the Blue Demons, was found in and was opened to the public this spring.
Each tomb is now visible only through a glass door, which guarantees the conservation of the delicate frescoes; frustrating as this may sometimes be, it is imperative for the preservation of these wall paintings, following the onset of mass tourism. Courtesy Mibact.
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The tombs and frescoes are portrayed by Lawrence in inspired terms. In , he visited the museums in Rome and Florence, and the book includes descriptions of the small museums at Palazzo Vitelleschi in Tarquinia and the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci in Volterra. But if one must have museums, let them be small, and above all, let them be local. Euphronios Krater c.
Museo Archeologico Cerite, Cerveteri. The Inghirami Tomb, for example, one of the most impressive funerary complexes discovered in Volterra, and containing about 50 of the characteristic carved alabaster sarcophagi from the area, was discovered in by the brothers Jacopo and Ludovico Inghirami. Damaged during the flood of , the tomb was restored afterwards, but is currently closed, like most of the garden of the museum, for lack of staff. Short of smashing the lock, it was impossible. When, in , the cycle of frescoes was lent by the private owners to the museum in Vulci for three months, the exhibition attracted 35, visitors, almost double of what the entire site attracts in a year.
Culturali e del Turismo. More structures than ever have been protected and made accessible, in locations where tombs are abundant more than survive at Cerveteri and almost 6, have been discovered at Tarquinia — only three per cent of which were decorated with frescoes.
As much as the idea of visiting these sites in relative solitude with acetylene lamps sounds appealing, it is a great accomplishment that they are now suitably managed and studied. New excavations are occasionally carried out, most recently in the area of the Tomb of the Sea Waves in Cerveteri, in Notwithstanding the enhancements to these archaeological parks and their increased visitor visitors, the sites described by Lawrence still preserve that evocative quality described in Etruscan Places.
With all their idiosyncrasy and enigmatic qualities, Etruscan works of art remain enthralling as the relics of a long lost and still deeply mysterious civilisation. Those leopards with their long tongues hanging out: those flowing hippocampi: those cringing spotted deer, struck in flank and neck; they get into the imagination, and will not go out. Preview and subscribe here.
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Naked Among the Tombs
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Le Guin. Book 2 of Earthsea Cycle.
Price may vary by retailer. Add to Cart Add to Cart. About The Book. The silence that followed was shaken only by the sound of many footsteps keeping time with a drum struck softly at a slow heart-pace. Through cracks in the roof of the Hall of the Throne, gaps between columns where a whole section of masonry and tile had collapsed, unsteady sunlight shone aslant.
It was an hour after sunrise. The air was still and cold. Dead leaves of weeds that had forced up between marble pavement-tiles were outlined with frost, and crackled, catching on the long black robes of the priestesses. They came, four by four, down the vast hall between double rows of columns. The drum beat dully. No voice spoke, no eye watched. Torches carried by black-clad girls burned reddish in the shafts of sunlight, brighter in the dusk between.
Outside, on the steps of the Hall of the Throne, the men stood, guards, trumpeters, drummers; within the great doors only women had come, dark-robed and hooded, walking slowly four by four toward the empty throne. Two came, tall women looming in their black, one of them thin and rigid, the other heavy, swaying with the planting of her feet. Between these two walked a child of about six. She wore a straight white shift.
Her head and arms and legs were bare, and she was barefoot. She looked extremely small. At the foot of the steps leading up to the throne, where the others now waited in dark rows, the two tall women halted. They pushed the child forward a little. The throne on its high platform seemed to be curtained on each side with great webs of blackness dropping from the gloom of the roof; whether these were curtains, or only denser shadows, the eye could not make certain. The throne itself was black, with a dull glimmer of precious stones or gold on the arms and back, and it was huge.
A man sitting in it would have been dwarfed; it was not of human dimensions. It was empty. Nothing sat in it but shadows. Guards held the great doors wide. The black procession came out into the thin, cold light and wind of early morning. The sun dazzled, swimming above the eastern vastness. Westward, the mountains caught its yellow light, as did the facade of the Hall of the Throne. The other buildings, lower on the hill, still lay in purplish shadow, except for the Temple of the God-Brothers across the way on a little knoll: its roof, newly gilt, flashed the day back in glory.
The black line of priestesses, four by four, wound down the Hill of the Tombs, and as they went they began softly to chant. The tune was on three notes only, and the word that was repeated over and over was a word so old it had lost its meaning, like a signpost still standing when the road is gone. Over and over they chanted the empty word. The little girl was taken from room to room, from temple to temple. In one place salt was placed upon her tongue; in another she knelt facing west while her hair was cut short and washed with oil and scented vinegar; in another she lay facedown on a slab of black marble behind an altar while shrill voices sang a lament for the dead.
Neither she nor any of the priestesses ate food or drank water all that day. As the evening star set, the little girl was put to bed, naked between sheepskin rugs, in a room she had never slept in before. It was in a house that had been locked for years, unlocked only that day. The room was higher than it was long, and had no windows. There was a dead smell in it, still and stale. The silent women left her there in the dark. She held still, lying just as they had put her. Her eyes were wide open. She lay so for a long time. She saw light shake on the high wall. Someone came quietly along the corridor, shielding a rushlight so it showed no more light than a firefly.
A head poked in the doorway, a strange head, hairless as a peeled potato, and of the same yellowish color.
The Tombs of Atuan
The eyes were like potato-eyes, brown and tiny. The nose was dwarfed by great, flat slabs of cheek, and the mouth was a lipless slit. The child stared unmoving at this face. Her eyes were large, dark, and fixed. His hand stopped; he did not touch her. I know. But I.
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Well, good night, little one. Good night. Manan slowly turned around and went away. The glimmer died from the high cell walls. The little girl, who had no name anymore but Arha, the Eaten One, lay on her back looking steadily at the dark. Reading Group Guide. About The Author. Photo Credit:. Product Details. Related Articles.