The Regolini-Galassi tomb digitised

19 Jul

Although the Regolini-Galassi tomb yielded one of the most amazing collections of Etruscan objects, which are on display in the Vatican Museum, the tomb itself is currently not accessible to the public.

entrance of the RG tomb

The entrance of the RG tomb (photo: CNR-ITABC)

Vatican museum - room 2

The objects from the RG tomb in the vatican museum (photo: Christie Ray)

In June, CNR-ITABC made a laser scan of the Regolini-Galassi tomb.  A ‘time of flight’ Riegl Z390i laser scanner was used.  The 3D model is built of measurements about 6 mm apart on the surface of the tomb, with an accuracy of maximum 3 mm.

laserscanning the RG tomb

Digitising the RG tomb by laserscanning (photo: CNR-ITABC)

Here are some first results, showing only the shape of the tomb.  Currently the photographs of the walls are being mapped onto this shape, yielding  a photorealistic visualisation of the tomb very soon.


Cross section of the 3D model of the RG tomb (laser scan: CNR-ITABC)


Longitudinal view of the 3D model of the RG tomb (laser scan: CNR-ITABC)


View on the antechamber of the RG tomb (3D model and laser scan: CNR-ITABC)


View from left niche into right niche (3D model and laser scan: CNR-ITABC)


View from the antechamber towards the exit (3D model and laser scan: CNR-ITABC)

The tomb however has been restored significantly, and part of the roof of the cella had collapsed (as can be seen form the photograph below and from the previous post).

RG tomb before restoration

The RG tomb before restoration (photo: Vatican Museum)

current state of the RG tomb

Current state of the antechamber and cella of the RG tomb (photo: CNR-ITABC)

An earlier survey of the tomb by Malgherini also shows this damage in the cella.


Ground plan of the RG tomb, with clearly visible damage in the cella on the right (by Malgherini)

Currently, there are several large stones inside the RG tomb.  We will check if these stones are part of the separation wall between cella and antechamber (the so-called window).

current state cella RG tomb

Large stone blocks in the cella of the RG tomb (photo: CNR-ITABC)

As can be seen from all of these images, only a small part of the antechamber of the tomb has a horizontal floor, most of the antechamber and the dromos (entrance part) have a significant slope.   Hence, the question that arises is if this slope is original or if there were stairs ending in a horizontal or faintly sloping floor.  By using ground penetrating radar (also called geo-radar), CNR-ITABC hopes to solve this issue soon.

After the excavation in 1836, the tomb was left open, without any maintenance or protection.  The image below shows the situation in 1838, as drawn by Mrs. Hamilton-Gray during her visit of the tomb (as described in her book Tour to the sepulchres of Etruria in 1839, published in 1843).


Entrance to the RG tomb in 1838 (by Mrs. Hamilton Gray)

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 “The Regolini-Galassi tomb digitised”


  1. First version of the interactive application « Virtual reconstruction of Regolini-Galassi tomb - October 10, 2011

    […] will be added in upcoming versions. For digitisaton, several techniques were used. The tomb was digitised by laser scanning. Most objects were hand modelled from new photography that was made by the photographic department […]

  2. Visit an Etruscan tomb in virtual 3D | The KGS History Society - October 22, 2011

    […] team began by laser scanning the tomb in June of this year. They then compared the current data with maps, sketches and reports from the […]

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