First reconstructions based upon the drawings of Grifi

6 Jul

Here are the very first results of the virtual reconstruction of the Etruscan Regolini Galassi tomb, excavated in 1836, with the objects on display in the Vatican Museum.  This virtual reconstruction is based upon dummy objects with an approximated form and material but with the right dimensions.  Also the tomb is quite precise. We used the oldest drawings of Luigi Grifi, made shortly after the excavations, to interpret which objects were standing where.

version 1 of virtual reconstruction RG tomb

Overview of the antechamber based upon the drawings of Grifi

In this reconstruction, we have assumed that the floor was horizontal and that there were stairs down to this floor level.  If this would not be the case, most objects such as the chariot and the lebes (with holmos support) would need to stand on a sloping floor.

version 1 of virtual reconstruction RG tomb

Closer view on the antechamber and its objects

In the reconstruction above, many discrepancies are visible with the drawing.  First of all, the objects are bigger than depicted on the drawing (see below).  The bed stands in the middle of the antechamber and in fact the shields cannot be positioned as depicted (we have depicted the 2 by 2 shields in an overlapping way, but that is very unlikely).

Regolini-Galassi da Grifi 1836

Oldest drawing of the RG tomb by Grifi

In the drawing above, the numbers in red refer to the catalogue number of Pareti (1947).  It still remains unclear why the tripods G (Pareti 309 & 310) are looking empty, they should carry some bowl with incense.

So that’s it for now. Next post will be about the first Lebetes Mystery…

Looking forward to your reactions!

This blog is part of the Etruscanning project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


2 Responses to “First reconstructions based upon the drawings of Grifi”

  1. wimhupperetz July 10, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    The mystery of the empty bed (lectus genialis) solved?

    In discussing the reconstruction of the Regolini Galassi tomb with Daniel Pletinckx and Richard Beacham, the latter was pointing on a very interesting hypothesis concerning the bed in the anti-chambre just in front of the chamber (with the window) where the princess was buried.
    If we consider the plan of the Regolini Galassi tomb as a plan of an Etruscan house we have to enter the grave through a passage way or corridor. In this corridor we find some objects that can be related to the importance of the family. Then we enter a small space in front of the three other rooms (two cellas and one closed chamber). In this small space we find the bed surrounded by small bucchero mourners and two tripods. To the left we have a cella that can be considered as a storage room (with lots of ceramics and bronze cauldrons) and to the right we have a cella where the urn with the cremation remains of the man (prince/warrior) was placed.
    Since the Etruscan tombs are considered as Etrsucan ‘houses of the dead’ we can look back for earlier influences but of course it is also possible that in the way the Roman houses were used, there are connections.
    In this sense – as Richard Beacham was suggesting – there are some striking parallels between the format of the Roman house and this Etrsucan tomb.
    The entrance could be considered as the vestibilum, entering then to the atrium. This was in old Latin households the bedroom of the mother of the family. Hence a bed (lectus genialis) stood opposite the main entrance. The cella to the left could be considered as the taberna, the storage room. The room where the princess was buried can be considered as the lararium (chapel that was part of the atrium) of the tablinum.
    Now back to the bed where no traces or objects indicate that this was covered with the remains of a buried person. So it should be an empty bed and this fits with the hypothesis that this bed – standing in the atrium – was considered as the symbol for the sancity of marriage. The mourners around the bed and around the urn (with remains of the deceased man) in the cella to the right could support the symbolic meaning of the empty bed.
    We should look for parallels in other Etrsucan tombs in order to get more proof for this interesting hypothesis.


  1. The mystery of the empty bed « Virtual reconstruction of Regolini-Galassi tomb - August 9, 2011

    […] that the bronze bed was empty.  Prof Richard Beacham (King’s College London) coined the very interesting interpretation that the shape of the tomb reflects the shape of an Etruscan or early Roman house and that the […]

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