Ancient Etruscan Tomb Found 'Undisturbed' In Italy

The 2,300-year-old grave could shed light on an enigmatic civilization.

An intact 2,300-year-old Etruscan tomb recently discovered in Italy may help shed light on an ancient civilization that flourished centuries before the rise of the Roman Empire.

The tomb, found in a field near Città della Pieve, about 30 miles southwest of Perugia, had been partially buried in a landslide, according to local news outlet Perugia Today.

Inside, archaeologists have found a number of artifacts including urns and a marble head, as well as two sarcophagi:

A worker had been plowing the field above the tomb in October when the machine jammed, leading to the spectacular find, according to Italian news outlet Umbria24, which says the tomb is at the end of a corridor 40 feet deep.

"It was a totally unexpected discovery," Clarita Natalini of the archaeological superintendency of Umbria told Discovery News. "The area is away from the sites visited by tomb robbers and indeed the burial is undisturbed."

She said one of the sarcophagi has the name "Laris" on it.

The other also contains an inscription but was damaged, apparently long ago.

A marble head found in the tomb had been broken off at the neck.

"It portrays the beautiful face of a young man," Natalini told Discovery. "We do not know yet its meaning. Perhaps it was part of a statue that honored one of the deceased."

The Etruscans have long been considered enigmatic by historians because little is known about their origins and even their language, which is not related to the Indo-European languages in the region.

However, discoveries in recent years have helped shed light on the civilization. For example, a 2013 study traced the origins of French winemaking to the Etruscans at around 525 BC.

The new discovery could help scientists learn even more, and local officials say other discoveries could be waiting in the area. Umbria24 reports that researchers may use ground-penetrating radar to scan for other hidden tombs.

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