Builders stumble on 27 Etruscan graves

The looters got there first, of course, but at least some of the 27 might be intact, and even the empty ones might have beautiful frescoes, which are fairly rare among archaeological explored tombs (60 painted tombs out of 6,000).

Archaeologists say there is also a “good chance” that there may well be other tombs waiting to be discovered. The tombs were discovered at Tarquinia, 50 miles north of Rome in an area named a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Covering more than 400 acres, the area was the burial ground for the Etruscan tribes who predated the Romans. Maria Tecla Castaldi, an archaeologist, said: “This is the most exciting discovery here in decades. There are frescoes of two figures on the walls, but we need to carry out a proper excavation and search.

Tarquinia is like a honeycomb of Estruscan necropolises. There’s not just a “good chance” that there are other tombs in the area. It’s a given.

That good chance would convert into a sure thing if archaeologists could ask the local tombaroli (tomb robbers). Twenty-seven tombs is a week’s work for these guys. They’re miles ahead of the authorities.

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