13 Antique Terracotta Vases from the Regolini Galassi Tomb

Inventory Numbers: 36584, 85; 36588-36597; 36608

Scansione da ekta (10x12 cm) n 17788

This amazing project aims to restore the precious artifacts originally located in the Regolini Galassi Tomb such as ceramics, bronze and silver vessels.

In 1836, at the necropolis of Sorbo in Caere (modern day Cerveteri), Archpriest Alessandro Regolini and General Vincenzo Galassi excavated one of the richest and most representative Etruscan tombs ever discovered, dating to between 675 and 650 BC. Some of the objects found in this important archaeological site are on display in Room II of the Gregorian Etruscan Museum.

This tomb is one of the most important pieces of evidence from the phase called the Orientalizing Period, a cultural phenomenon that swept across the entire Mediterranean basin. This movement brought with it a wide circulation of goods and knowledge from Egypt and the Near East due to the activity of the Phoenician and Greek merchants.

In the antechamber there was a burial bed, decorated and surrounded by weeping bronze statuettes, a trolley of gifts, bundles of bronze and iron skewers, ornate furniture, and vases depicting an aristocratic banquet. Eight embossed bronze shields were placed along the walls as symbols of rank and prestige, alluding to the chariot, the prerogative of the prince-warrior. Also found in the antechamber was a wagon, which was likely used for the last trip to the funeral ritual, and a carriage used both in everyday life and in ceremonies.

In addition to lavish bejeweled outfits, vases, and metal décor, the tombs of the Etruscan princes were also filled with a number of large containers to store goods and food to be used in the afterlife. Another item commonly found in the tombs were braziers, a ritual object that carried burnt offerings to accompany funeral ceremonies. Large containers made of mixed ceramic were also discovered in the Regolini-Galassi tomb. Their discovery led to further discoveries of other monumental tombs in the same necropolis. These funerary objects like braziers and pithoi often depict fantastical animals inspired by oriental tradition. They date back to the end of the 7th century BC, and are, therefore, older than the main sepulcher of the Regolini-Galassi tomb.  The restoration project is rendered complex by the relative fragility and the considerable weight of these large terracotta containers that makes them difficult to transport. It will be necessary, therefore to recover and esthetically analyze each piece close-up, now nearly two centuries after their initial discovery. This study is important because objects created during the Orientalizing epoch have increased in value amongst the scholarly community in recent years. Simultaneously, researchers will create accurate graphical and photographical documentation that will be used to restore the complete image of the complex decorations. This documentation process will also be helpful in determining the location and date of creation of each ceramic piece. The restoration will also involve the cleaning of surfaces, repairing cracks and other damage and small integrations where necessary.