|Landscape view from Tarquinia's necropolis|
My husband and I hopped on an early train from Rome to the small town of Tarquinia. A short shuttle-bus ride took us to the city center and the Tarquinia National Museum, which housed an excellent collection of artifacts, sarcophagi, and restored wall paintings. From the museum we hiked about a mile to the necropolis. Situated on a hill, the necropolis overlooks the sea in the west and rolling hills and valleys like the one pictured above to the east and south. The day we visited, the wind roared, dragging low gray clouds and rain over us. We hurried from one tomb to another like gophers popping in and out of holes to avoid the wet, chilling gusts.
Each tomb is covered by a bunker-like structure with steep stairs leading down to its burial chamber. The chambers are protected by a plexi-glass barrier, and timed lighting features insure that the paintings are exposed to light only when they are being viewed. Although houses of the dead, the tombs conveyed a sense of life's continuity. Music, dancing, feasting, sex--those activities depicted by Etruscan artists more than two thousand years ago remain central sources of human delight. Examining those tombs, I didn't wonder about religious symbolism or the mysteries of Etruscan culture. I thought about how alike people are. The distance of decades or miles or ideologies doesn't alter the basic attributes and experiences of being human.
|Detail from Tomb of the Leopards|