Archive | September, 2011

Update on the 3D reconstruction of the RG tomb

2 Sep

We made an update of the 3D model of the Regolini-Galassi tomb, implementing the latest conclusions and adding the objects that still were missing.  Recent research by CNR-ITABC has shown that there is a floor under the current deposit of mud and that the dromos (entrance area of the grave) was still sloping downward (at a few degrees) towards the antechamber that has a level floor.  This aspect has not been implemented in this reconstruction yet for simplicity.  As explained in a earlier post, we choose to put the 6-headed lebes on top of the bronze holmos.

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View on the dromos (3D reconstruction: Visual Dimension)

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View on the antechamber (3D reconstruction: Visual Dimension)

We reconstructed the biga (war chariot) and have put it inside the right niche, next to the cinerary urn that contains the ashes of the warrior.  We verified that the reconstructed biga, as present in the storage of the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco (but not currently on display as there are some doubts about the reconstruction), can enter the tomb and the niche when taken apart.  The beam that connects the chariot to the horses (see photograph below) is not depicted but could fit inside the niche.

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View inside the right niche (3D reconstruction: Visual Dimension)


Reconstructed biga, based upon remains in the right niche (photo: Vatican Museums)

The left niche has a large collection of storage vessels (ollae) and other utilitarian vessels (many of the smaller ones are not depicted).  The bronze vessel in the foreground (see image below) is a Villanovan urn that is clearly older than the other objects in the tomb, probably containing the ashes of an ancestor (see also photograph below).  We also have put there the Etruscan inkpot (see also photograph below) that is said to have been found in the Regolini-Galassi tomb.  The object is quite fascinating, as it is covered by Etruscan writing, but its function and its provenance are quite unclear.  This delicate object looks like it does not belong to a storage room, maybe it should go into the cella or the right niche, as very little is known were it was found during the excavation.

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View inside the left niche (3D reconstruction: Visual Dimension)

Villanovan urn

Bronze Villanovan urn from the RG tomb (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)


Small bucchero vase - so called inkpot - with Etruscan inscriptions (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

We started putting in also most of the larger objects in the cella.  As explained in an earlier post, we have choosen to put the two large lebetes on their respective tripods in the cella.  We have added several paterae, a ribbed one (only partially preserved), an undecorated one (see photograph below), and a silver kylix (shallow bowl with foot, see photograph below) plus a set of bronze vessels (see photograph below).

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View inside the cella (3D reconstruction: Visual Dimension)

silver patera

Undecorated silver patera - unrestored - with nail in the middle (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)


Silver kylix with golden handles and nail (middle bottom) (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

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A set of ten bronze vessels from the RG tomb (photo: Vatican Museums)

On the floor, we have put a large collection of silverware, that is most probably related to the funeral banquet.  Most of these splendid objects therefore suffered from corrosion or from the partial collapse of the roof.

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View inside the cella with a large set of silver vessels on the floor (3D reconstruction: Visual Dimension)

silver bowl

One out of five silver bowls (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

silver kotyle

One out of six silver kotyle vases (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

silver pitcher

One out of two silver pitchers (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

silver vase

Small silver vase with golden handles (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

Some objects nevertheless remain enigmatic. For example, there are four nearly identical decorated bronze discs (see image below), two discs have a lion walking to the left, the other two have a lion walking to the right.  Currently, there is no idea what these discs are or how they were used.  They are too small (40 cm diameter) to be considered as shields, and don’t have the right form to be considered as paterae.

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One of four, nearly identical, bronze decorated discs (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

All four discs have nail holes, like many other objects in the RG tomb. These nail holes however are quite different, they appear in pairs all around the rim (see image below) and are quite small. The nails are in bronze and appear to have fixed the disc on a softer material than stone, probably wood.  The object should be symmetrical to accomodate these 2 by 2 identical discs.  At this moment however, there is no object in the RG tomb that could have served as an obvious basis for these discs.

nail holes

One of the bronze discs with indication of the nail holes (photo: Vatican Museums)

Until recently, a reconstruction of the 4-wheeled chariot, that was used probably to transport the corpse of the warrior, was presented in the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco in the Vatican.  Currently, it isn’t on display anymore as the museum wants to revise the reconstruction. This chariot is currently the only known object in the tomb that could be asscociated with these four bronze discs.  The discs could fit on the wheels and cover the protruding wheel axes. Below, you will find the 3D dummy model of this reconstructed chariot without and with the discs.

cart without discs

Current reconstruction of the 4-wheeled chariot (reconstruction: Visual Dimension)

cart with discs

Alternative reconstruction of the 4-wheeled chariot with the bronze discs attached to the wheels (reconstruction: Visual Dimension)

The result is plausible but not really convincing, the discs are somewhat too small (40 cm diameter) to fit on the presumed wheels (67 cm diameter).  Research needs to be conducted on other chariots from other tombs.

It is considered quite improbable that the discs would have been fitted on the outside of the biga.  So, there aren’t any other alternatives available for the moment, it is completely unclear on what object these discs go.  If you have any idea, please do leave a reaction!

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.