Gold leaf jewelry with Repoussé Decoration



Inventory Number: 20541; 20542; 20589-20599, 22214-22215, 20578-20588; 20200, 20478, 20531-20536 (fragments); 20537, 20538 (2 necklaces in gilded silver); 20474 (missing fragments for a necklace)

The Regolini-Galassi Tomb, located in the necropolis of Sorbo in Cerveteri, takes its name from its two discoverers, the archpriest Alessandro Regolini and General Vincenzo Galassi who received a special permission for excavation from the Papal Government in 1836. It is one of the richest and most representative Etruscan tombs ever discovered, dated between 675 and 650 B.C. Immediately after its discovery, all objects found in the tomb were purchased for the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, where they have been exhibited for almost two centuries. The tomb is a unique testimony of the “Orientalizing” period, a cultural phenomenon that spanned the entire Mediterranean basin, and Etruria, with the circulation of goods and extensive knowledge from Egypt and the Near East being spread thanks to the activity of Phoenician and Greek navigators.

The architecture of the tomb, which is still visible in Cerveteri, was carved into the volcanic rock (tufo in Italian) and partially built with stone blocks. It was then covered by an impressive mound. The tomb consists of a hall with two elliptical side cells and a lower chamber, separated by a wall with a triangular window. At least two people of royal blood were buried inside: a cremated individual in the room on the right and a woman buried in the chamber. The latter lies on a low bed and is accompanied by a rich collection con- sisting of personal jewelry of refined workmanship, pottery, and silvered bronze. Part of this collection included a costly array of objects, worthy of kings and queens, of which only the gold foil remains. All are decorated with embossed geometric patterns (meanders, circles, rosettes) or showing a figurative “orientalizing” repertoire (a winged woman, the head of the goddess Hathor, a lion). Originally they must have numbered several hundred.

Today, there are 489 of those works intact, to which must be added countless fragments. This project intends to address the restoration of the decorated foil pieces and the two necklaces in gilded silver, all currently exhibited in room II of the Gregorian Etruscan Museum.