VIRTUAL RECONSTRUCTION OF THE REGOLINI GALASSI BARROW. PROBLEMATIC ASPECTS AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

On the 10th of August we had a meeting with Mrs. Rita Cosentino, the responsible of the Necropolis and excavations in Cerveteri, together with Mr. Maurizio Sannibale from Vatican Museum, in order to discuss with them about some important issues:

1) the possible ancient floor plane of the dromos the Regolini Galassi that today appears sloping from the entrance to the anti-chamber.
2) the entrance of the Regolini Galassi grave (shape and possible ancient closure);
3) the shape of the barrow (realistic inclination, also in relation with the “shape” of the ancient landscape);

Mrs. Cosentino suggested us to go to Cerveteri and visit some graves that are similar in typology to Regolini Galassi grave: the Capanna Barrow (Banditaccia Necropolis) and the grave in San Paolo,  located along the road connecting Cerveteri to Alsium.
She also suggested to make a survey in the Regolini Galassi entrance and dromos with a particular instrument, a sort pole, to penetrate the ground, test and verify the ancient hard tuff level in order to make more realistic hypothesis about the slope.

So, on the 17th of August, we came back to Cerveteri. The visit was very useful and allowed us to exclude some hypothesis and have clearer ideas. These are some conclusions:

FLOOR OF THE DROMOS OF THE REGOLINI  GALASSI TOMB. The actual floor of the dromos is not the ancient one. The instrument put in evidence that at the entrance there is a deposit of 1 mt  (soft terrain) probably brought in the grave by the rain or by the farmers that used the grave as cellar to stock food and tools. At the entrance of the two cells the instrument entered the soft terrain for 10-15 cm, inside the left cell about 70 cm and in the final chamber of the princess only 5 cm. So, in the dromos, the depth of the deposit decreases gradually from the entrance to the chamber, (also because there is a door-step dividing the anti-chamber from the chamber that could stop the distribution of the deposit).

investigation near the entrance, the instrument is outside the ground

investigation near the entrance: the instrument is in the ground (about 1mt of deposit )

We would like to come back to the grave with a geo-radar  for geophysic investigation that could reveal with more accuracy what is the situation underground.
Our hypothesis is that the floor of the dromos could be flat and not sloping. This means that part of the lateral walls are still hidden and, as we would like to represent the grave as it probably was in etruscan age, we should decide how to characterize these parts of the wall. Do we want to distinguish them from the rest of the walls? Do we want to characterize them with another color or with simpler geometry or do we want to create a realistic environment without differences?

Another element is the plaster put on the lateral walls during the XX century: in the 3D model of the grave in etruscan age we should show the dromos  excavated in the tuff, eliminating the plaster. We need to analyze some documents preserved in Villa Giulia archives in order to understand something else about these works.

ENTRANCE OF THE TOMB. It is very hard to make a realistic hypothesis oh the ancient entrance of the tomb. It is evident that the ancient level of the entrance is totally different from how it is today.
Perhaps the ancient entrance was underground just below the actual one, or it could be some meters away, outside. The steps today visible and in use to enter in are modern…

A new excavation would be necessary!  Since we don’t have  any data, we will represent the ancient entrance where it is today but the level of the terrain will be lower and so the entrance will appear higher, perhaps few steps will connect the outside level  of the terrain with the dromos floor, following some other examples of Cerveteri graves (for instance the Capanna grave).
Moreover the entrance of the tomb could be partially closed by some big tuff stones. These stones could be removed by Etruscans themselves in some infrequent occasions, for instance for specific rituals in memory of the dead or for new burials.

SHAPE OF THE BARROW. We agreed that Canina’s drawing are not very realistic, especially for the shape of the tumulus. In fact all his representations Canina tends to create very monumental volumes; it would be interesting to investigate this specific cultural pattern born during the neoclassic period in order to interpret and understand Canina’s “mindscape”.
The Barrow was excavated in the tuff bank, and the land above, covering the inner structure built in tuff stones, the  could have a plausible sloping of 35 degrees.
The moulding could have several shapes, in general this shape (with more or less elements) had the function to distinguish the family who was the owner of the tomb.

Example of barrow excavated in the tuff bank, (Colonnello grave)

In the case of Regolini Galassi barrow we can only take in consideration parallelisms and similar cases, because the original barrow is no longer recognizable today: it was included in a wider barrow later, in etruscan age when new tombs were excavated, and in modern time the man has changed the landscape for agricultural uses.
In the Banditaccia necropolis we saw many barrows and we had a better comprehensions of the typologies. The Capanna grave is similar to the Regolini Galassi one for the plan but the dromos is open, without ceiling. It has two lateral cells that are placed along the dromos and their entrances are still partially closed by the stones; only the anti-chamber and final chamber are inside.

Capanna barrow

Capanna dromos

Capanna grave plan

Also the San Paolo  grave has an open dromos, very monumental, and the general plan is similar to Regolini Galassi tomb.
Even if the typology and the plan of these two graves appears very similar, the main difference is in the dromos that, in the case of RG, is closed and also the two cells are included inside the tomb.
We could not enter in san Paolo grave because the vegetation was very high and it could be dangerous….

San Paolo grave, dromos

Sometimes the barrow could have a sacred terrace to make specific rituals before bringing the dead inside the tomb. In Cerveteri many examples are still visible, like for instance in the case of Capanna barrow.

example of terrace, Capanna barrow

Eva Pietroni, CNR ITABC

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