Tag Archives: holmos

Etruscanning3D in Tongeren

18 Mar

On March 15, 2013, the Gallo-Roman museum of Tongeren, Belgium opened a great exhibition on the Etruscans, named Una Storia Particolare. The exhibition shows a excellent selection of Etruscan objects and ends with the Regolini-Galassi tomb.  Many objects on display are on loan from the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden and the Vatican Museums.

Regolini-Galassi room

Room dedicated to the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

In a separate room, the contour of Regolini-Galassi tomb has been depicted on the floor and some of the objects from the tomb are on display, positioned on the same place as in the original tomb. Key objects which are on display are the six-headed lebes and the bronze holmos.

Regolini-Galassi room

Objects from the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

Next to the objects from the Regolini-Galassi, the Etruscanning3D application has been installed, showing the tomb and about 80 digitally restored objects in an interactive way through virtual reality.  This serious games setup is based upon a Kinect camera and uses the version of the software with the hotspots.

Etruscanning3D

The Etruscanning3D application in the Tongeren museum (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

The exhibition is open until August 25, 2013.  More practical information can be found here.

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is being partially 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.

 

Did griffins really exist?

28 Jan

While doing the digital restoration of several objects of the Regolini-Galasssi tomb, we noticed that there are many depictions of griffins on these objects.  Griffins were a popular theme in Etruscan art in the Orientalising Period in which this tomb has been built, but they are depicted in a very distinct, consistent way, with two long curls in the neck, which proves that there is an interesting story behind.  What are the origins of griffins, why are they depicted in this peculiar way? For example, a griffin is depicted on the situla which we have restored digitally (see image below).

detail of situla decoration

Detail of the restored situla decoration, showing a griffin (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

As we can see from the image above, the griffin has the body of a lion but has wings and a beak like an eagle, very specific ears and two strange curls at the back of the head.  Other depictions of griffins on objects from the Regolini-Galassi tomb, such as the holmos, are very similar and show the same characteristic features.

griffin on holmos bottom

Griffin on the bottom part of the holmos (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

griifin on holmos top

Griffin on the top part of the holmos (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

griffin on holmos top

Griffin on the top part of the holmos (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

On some objects, the griffins are used more as a decorative element, still with the same characteristics (beak, curls).

disc fibula

Golden disc fibula from the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo: Vatican Museums)

detail of golden fibula

Detail of the bottom part of the golden fibula showing griffins (photo: Vatican Museums)

golden breast plate

Golden breast plate (photo: Vatican Museums)

detail golden breast plate

Detail of the golden breast plate showing griffins (photo: Vatican Museums)

In 2000, Adrienne Mayor, a historian at Stanford University, published the ground-breaking book The First Fossile Hunters, which makes the link between fossils of extinct animals (such as dinosaurs) and mythical animals (such as the griffin).  More specifically, she states that Scythian nomads, who were mining gold in the Central Asian area in the first millennium BC, told stories about the griffin, a fierce, eagle beaked, lion sized animal that wondered around in their mines, guarding the gold.

The First Fossile Hunters by Adrienne Mayor (2000, 2010)

The First Fossile Hunters by Adrienne Mayor (2000, 2010)

She states that these Scythian miners must have found skeletons of the Protoceratops dinosaur (see book cover above) and that these descriptions were known to Greek traders shortly before 675 BC (the Regolini-Galassi tomb was build around 675-650 BC). In the foreword of the second edition (2010) of this book, she also notes that other similar dinosaurs have been excavated in the Central Asian region such as the Turanoceratops (published in 2009) and the Sinoceratops (published in 2010). When comparing the reconstructions of these animals (see below) with the Scythian, Greek and Etruscan depictions of griffins, we come to very interesting conclusions.

The Protoceratops had a distinct neck shield and birdlike beak.  The animal however was eating plants and had the size of a sheep.  Some skeletons show a crest bone.

Protoceratops

Protoceratops reconstruction (image: Nobu Tamura)

Protoceratops

Protoceratops skeleton (image: Wikipedia)

Protoceratops front view

Some Protoceratops had a crest bone (image: Wikipedia)

The Turanoceratops was similar but somewhat bigger. In addition to the neck shield, it had two distinct horns and was the size of a lion.

Turanoceratops

Turanoceratops reconstruction (image: Sergey Krasovskiy)

Turanoceratops

Turanoceratops skeleton (image: Vadim Glinskiy)

The Sinoceratops on the other hand had only one horn and an elaborated neck shield from which curved hornlets protruded.  On both sides of the neck shield, it had extra horns.  It was the size of a small elephant.

Sinoceratops

Sinoceratops reconstruction

Sinoceratops

Sinoceratops skull (image: Lukas Panzarin)

sinoceratops_front

Sinoceratops – front view

Most of these dinosaur remains have been found in the western part of the Gobi desert and the Altai mountains, not far from the Silk road.  This is also the area where the Scythians had their gold mines.  So it is not surprising at all that in Chinese art also griffins appear.  The top depiction in the image below fits very well with the Ceratops neck shield with two holes.

Chinese jade plaques

Chinese jade plaques with griffins (British Museum, photo: Wikipedia)

When we look at Scythian depictions of griffins (see below), we see that the animal has a crest and strange ear-like features at the back of the head that could refer to the neck shield and crest bone of the Protoceratops dinosaur.

Scythian depiction of griffin

Scythian depiction of griffin (image: Wikipedia)

Other Scythian depictions of griffins (below) show also the neck shield (even with the holes) and the crest bone, and seem to suggest even the curved hornlets of the Sinoceratops.

Scythian

Scythian tattoo depiction of a griffin

Scythian tattoo depiction of a griffin

Scythian tattoo depiction of a griffin

Some Scythian depictions of griffins even seem to refer clearly to the two-horned Turanoceratops.

Scythian depe (6th-5th century)

Scythian gold applique in the form of a griffin  (6th-5th century BC)

It is unclear however if the typical ears of the griffin relate to a misinterpretation of the neck shield of the Protoceratops or to the two horns of the Turanoceratops, or if both depictions have been confused and merged into one.  Some Greek drawings clearly show (see below)  two horns like a Turanoceratops, but also show the crest bone which is more typical for the Protoceratops. Other depictions show clearly the two horns without crest (see below).

greek

Detail of a Greek crater, 375-350 BC, Louvre

Assyrian

Cylinder seal and impression, Mesopotamia, 13th century BC, The Morgan Library & Museum

Greek and Etruscan objects of the 7th-6th century BC show griffins with strange ears connected to a bony neck feature plus a horn on top of the head.  If we assume that the “ears” are an interpretation of the neck shield (because they continue in this strange feature in the neck), this depiction is very consistent with the skeleton of a Sinoceratops.  Detailed information on the appearance of such griffins were probably transferred to the Etruscans through contacts with their gold digging colleagues from Scythia, resulting in a quite different depiction of griffins in the 7th century BC (cfr. the book of Adrienne Mayor).

Etruscan protome of a lebes

Etruscan protome of a lebes, 600-575 BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

holmos_lebeti_Praeneste

Etruscan lebes (decorated with griffins and lions) from the Barberini tomb, Praeneste, 650 BC

greek

Pair of Greek griffin protomes, late 7th – early 6th century BC, Art Institute, Chicago

Greek

Greek griffin figurine, around 625 BC, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

If we go back to the griffin depictions on the Regolini-Galassi objects (images at the beginning), we see that the most prominent features that relate to the ceratops skeletons are the ears and the neck shield ending in curls.  When looking at recent excavations of Sinoceratops remains, we see that such features stand out remarkably when found.

frill

The frill of a Sinoceratops dinosaur

skull sino

The skull of a Sinoceratops dinosaur with the central horn

But griffins have been depicted already before 700 BC.  These depictions can be found not only in the Middle East but also in the Minoan palace of Crete.  They typically show a griffin as a crested eagle-lion. We also see that the griffin images on the objects of the Regolini-Galassi tomb are still closely related to these older depictions from the Levant, and not to the different Greek depictions (see above) that appear at the same time.

met

Griffin excavated in Nimrud, Mesopotamia, 9th-8th c. BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Griffin, Syro-Palestinian, 8th century BC, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

megiddo

Ivory carving from Megiddo, 13th century BC, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Minoan Knossos 17th

Reconstructed wall painting in the Minoan Throne Room at Knossos,  17th century BC

One small note concerning the six-headed lebes from the Regolini-Galassi tomb needs to be made here.  Although nearly every text about this object describes the depicted animals as griffins, close examination shows that the animals do not have any griffin features, but look much more like lions.

6-headed lebes

Bronze six-headed lebes from the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo:Vatican Museums)

detail lebes protome

Detail of one of the so-called griffin heads of the RG lebes (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

If  we compare with the other five-headed lebes that is decorated by lion heads, we clearly see the analogy between features of both depictions, such as the whiskers and the teeth (griffins are never depicted with whiskers or teeth).  So the heads of the 6-headed lebes of the Regolini-Galassi tomb do represent lions, no griffins!

5-headed lebeti

Bronze lebes with five lion heads from the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo: Vatican Museums)

Detail views of the lion heads of the lebes (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

Detail views of the lion heads of the RG lebes (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is being partially 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.

 

The holmos and lebes digitally restored

28 Nov

The bronze holmos of the Regolini-Galassi tomb is a very elaborated and beautiful object that has suffered significant damage and corrosion.

bronze holmos

Bronze holmos from the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo: Vatican Museums)

To reveal the beauty of this object, we have unwrapped its decoration and used this image to create the line drawing of the engraved decoration.  Based upon this engraving and upon detailed study of the applied embossing, we have created a displacement map of the decoration of each of the parts of the holmos.

holmos unwrapped texture

Unwrapped decoration of the holmos cone (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

The displacement map is created in the same way as for the other objects: we simulate the engraving and embossing process in different layers of a Photoshop image, that is overlaid on the unwrapped texture.

Depth map holmos cone

Displacement map of the holmos cone (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

The displacement map is transformed into a normal map in Unity3D, giving a very nice real time rendering of the bronze object.

DROMOS8_new

Digitally restored holmos, placed in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

Digitally restored holmos, placed in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

DROMOS10_new

Digitally restored holmos, placed in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

The 6-headed lebes also suffered deformation and damage, so we performed digital restoration on this object as well.

6-headed lebes

Bronze six-headed lebes from the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo:Vatican Museums)

In this case, we derived the unwrapped texture from a 3D model that was made from dense stereo matching on a set of photographs taken with an object tent.

3D photography of the lebes

Photography of the lebes in an object tent for creating the 3D model (photo: Vatican Museums)

detail of lebes

Detail of the engraving of the lebes (photo: Vatican Museums)

We first identified the full engraving of the lebes on the unwrapped texture, completing the missing parts.  Then, we painted the embossed features in a similar way as the other objects, through observation of those features on the many photographs taken.

lebes_depth_map_comp

Displacement map superimposed upon the unwrapped texture of the lebes (image: Visual Dimension bvba)

The displacement map was imported in Unity3D and translated into a normal map for real time visualisation (see images below, compare with images above).  All digitally restored objects are integrated in the new version of the application.

digitally restored six-headed lebes

Digitally restored six-headed lebes (image:CNR-ITABC)

Digitally restored six-headed lebes

Digitally restored six-headed lebes (image:CNR-ITABC)

This blog is part of the Etruscanning 3D project, that is being partially 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.

 

New version of the Regolini-Galassi tomb visualisation

26 Nov

After quite a long break, we’re back to continue to update this blog.  CNR-ITABC in Rome has been working hard on creating a new version that has been demonstrated at the Italian Science Festival in Genua (Oct 25 – Nov 4, 2012) and at the ArcheoVirtual exhibition that took place in the context of the Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico in Paestum, Italy (Nov 15-18, 2012).

New version of Regolini-Galassi tomb 3D application

New version of Regolini-Galassi tomb 3D application (image: CNR-ITABC)

At the Science Festival,  many children could use the application, which was hosted and evaluated by the V-MusT European network.  The V-MusT stand had about 4000 visitors.

Etruscanning3D at Genova

Etruscanning3D at Science Festival in Genova

At ArcheoVirtual, where a large number of new virtual museum applications where demonstrated, the Etruscanning3D application was also evaluated by the V-MusT team.  The visitors were very positive about the new application.

Etruscanning3D at ArcheoVirtual

Etruscanning3D at ArcheoVirtual 2012

At ArcheoVirtual, Etruscanning3D received the Award for best application in the category “New Interaction” and was the virtual museum that was appreciated the most by the visitors of the exhibition.

ArcheoVirtual Award ceremony

Etruscanning 3D receives the “New Interaction Award” at ArcheoVirtual 2012

The new version not only contains many more digitally restored objects, but allows also to navigate freely through the tomb and to select objects.  You will read more about the digital restoration of the objects in the next posts of this blog.

restored holmos

The restored holmos at the entrance of the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image:CNR-ITABC)

restored shields

The restored bronze shields in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (image:CNR-ITABC)

main chamber

The main burial chamber (image: CNR-ITABC)

In April 2013, the new version of the Etruscanning3D application will be installed permanently in the Vatican Museums.

The smell of eternity

19 Jul

When browsing through the list of objects in the Regolini-Galassi tomb, many objects seem to be related to incense burning. In recent years however, the understanding of Etruscan funeral rites has improved a lot through study and archaeological research. In this blog entry, we try to look into the possible interpretations of the incense related objects in the RG tomb.

When we have a look at Etruscan incense burners, we see that these objects (also called thymiaterion) only appear from the 6th century BC and consist of a small bowl (max. 15 cm) on a pedestal.  None of the objects in the RG tomb are similar to these typical incense burners.  On the other hand, the larger tripods from the RG tomb  have a support for a heating source but also do carry additional holders that could be used for incense burning (see image below).

detail_tripod

Detail of (a reconstruction of) an iron tripod from the RG tomb (photo: René van Beek)

The second object in the RG tomb that many authors link to incense burning is the bronze holmos.  When we analyse the different Etruscan objects that are described as holmos, we see an evolution (see image below) from a very practial kitchen tool, 25 cm high, that supports and heats vessels through burning charcoal in the lower part, to a more  elaborated stand (over 1 m high)  that still looks like having the same function, but with one or two spherical parts added between the foot and the support.  These spheres allow the smoke and sparks to settle.  The “handles” between the spheres provide additional strength and handling capability when turning the holmos upside down to remove the ashes after use.

Etruscan holmoi

Evolution of Etruscan holmoi (all objects are dated 7th century BC)

However, many holmoi that we have today come from graves, where they probably had a symbolic function and were not designed to be operational.  Especially the bronze holmos that has been found in the RG tomb (see a similar example from Praeneste below) looks like being purely symbolic, but still referring to food preparation to my opinion.  In any case, it could serve as a stand to carry some bowl or vessel (as shown below).  Pareti expressed doubts that the holmos of the RG tomb could support a lebes (as they are quite heavy as they are cauldrons for real use), but we consider it as possible that it could carry the smallest 6-headed lebes.

holmos_lebeti_Praeneste

Bronze holmos with lebes from the Praeneste necropolis

One of the decisions that we need to make in this virtual reconstruction of the RG tomb, is the place of the three lebetes and the bronze holmos.  The most logical solution is to put the two identical 5-headed lebetes in the cella and to put the smaller 6-headed lebes on the holmos in the antechamber.  As described before, in the early drawings a 5-headed lebes is missing and the holmos is always depicted empty.  So what is the solution ?

As there are many elements that make us believe that the two persons that found their last resting place in this tomb are man and woman. As the lebetes are real bronze cauldrons, used for cooking, they could come from the same household, so it is conceivable that one 5-headed lebes was put in the cella as a funeral gift for the woman, and an identical 5-headed lebes was also given to the man as a funeral gift. As the lebes was too heavy for the funeral holmos to be put on top, it was put in the storage room (the left niche).

In other words, we should see the lebetes purely as objects linked to cooking (hence playing a role in the funeral banquet and given to the deceased as a utility for the afterlife). The incense reported by Mrs. Hamilton Gray (Tour to the sepulchres of Etruria in 1839, pg. 25) can be present in the small recipients of the iron tripods (see above).

The same holds for the empty tripods in the antechamber.  These tripods  were used during the funeral banquet (hence empty) or were just symbolic as a utilitarian object for the afterlife.

The next object is a bronze cart.  All drawings of the RG tomb show, next to the bronze bed, this peculiar object, described as incense burner on wheels.  But was this cart really used for incense burning?

virtual reconstruction RG tomb

Virtual reconstruction of the antechamber of the RG tomb (D. Pletinckx) with bronze cart on the right

This cart consists of a large bronze “table” of 104 by 30 cm on wheels, bordered with stylised plants,  a bronze bowl of 27 cm wide and an overarching bronze support with a round centrepiece on which a vessel could be put (see images below).

incense_burner

Side view of the incense burner on wheels from the RG tomb (Canina 1846)

incense_burner_top_view

Top view of the incense burner on wheels from the RG tomb (Canina 1846)

A very similar cart has been found in Vetulonia, but is described by Randall-MacIver as a food-cart or porta-vivande.  The only functional difference with the RG cart is that there are two vessel supports above the bowl instead of one. To our opinion, the bronze RG cart makes much more sense as food cart than as incense burner, as the bowl could be filled by charcoal, a vessel could be put on top of the overarching support to be heated or kept warm and food or objects can be placed on the table surface.  Probably both carts are not sturdy enough to be used in real life and are kind of symbolic copies of real life objects.

food_cart

Bronze "food cart", Vetulonia, around 700 BC

A somewhat similar cart was found in Bisenzio, which again consists of a support for a vessel, with a holder for a heating source (one side of the cart has no decoration to provide access to put the heating source).  Again, this device seems more appropriate for serving and heating food than burning incense.

bronze cart from Olmo Bello necropolis

Bronze cart, Olmo Bello necropolis (Bisenzio), around 750 BC (Villa Giulia, Rome)

More and more authors are convinced that the bronze bed, that we have in the antechamber, is an empty bed and that the remains of the deceased are the cremation rests in the large cinerary urn in the right hand side chamber.  It is conceivable that the absence of incense burners is simply linked to the fact that there was no decaying body and no need to mask the odor, hence that all objects such as the tripods, the holmos and the bronze cart have to be interpreted as objects linked to a funeral banquet.

The point that we want to make here is that in this Regolini-Galassi tomb, we find very few objects that directly can be indentified as incense burners.  In the cella, we probably have two bronze cauldrons (lebetes) on tripods, which carry additional small recipients that could be used for incense burning.  The cauldrons on tripods rather have to be associated with a funeral banquet, the tripods carry a bowl under the cauldron in which a flame can be burning to heat the cauldron. Incense was reported to be present in one of the vessels, possibly in the small recipients of these tripods.  In the antechamber, we have empty tripods, again with a support for a heating device, a bronze holmos, two bronze cauldrons and a food cart. All are food related objects but no incense burners.  In our opinion, nearly all objects in both the cella and the antechamber need to be interpreted as objects that were used (or at least symbolised use) in a funeral banquet.

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.

 

The second Lebetes Mystery

11 Jul

The Regolini-Galassi tomb contained three large bronze cauldrons, decorated with animals heads, so-called lebetes (see previous entry).  When trying to visualise the RG tomb in its original state, we not only come across the question where these three lebetes were positioned (see the first Lebetes Mystery) but also how (in other words, if they had a certain support and if yes, which one).

Currently, we know about two nearly identical iron tripods that have the right dimensions to carry the lebetes (Pareti catalogue, numbers 308 and 310).  In the Vatican museum, the two 5-headed lebetes are displayed on top of these tripods. In fact, as they are heavily damaged and corroded, one lebes is shown on a physical reconstruction of the tripod (as can also be seen on this image below from the Pareti catalogue from 1947) .

Lebete and tripods

The two 5-headed lebetes, the reconstructed tripod and one of the original tripods (from Pareti, 1947)

On the other hand, both Grifi (1841, tav. VI) and Canina (1846, tav. LVIII) describe and depict in detail another iron tripod and note that there are two of them.

tripod Canina

One of the two missing tripods, depicted in Canina (1846)

In the Vatican museum, we currently have a very similar tripod in bronze from one of the tombs that surrounded the RG tomb (i.e. the Tomb of the Tripod), but the Canina drawing is too detailed and the differences are too many and too obvious to accept that Canina confused both objects.

bronze tripod from the Tomb of the Tripod

Bronze tripod from the Tomb of the Tripod (Vatican Museum)

Both Grifi (1841, tav. XII) and Canina (1846, tav. L) have clearly depicted these tripods (see letter G in the image below, compare with the 1836 image in this blog entry) so we need to accept that there were two more tripods in the tomb that we don’t have anymore today. The tripods were maybe in bronze, not in iron, as the drawing above suggests a very good conservation.

Canina ground plan RG tomb detail

Detail of the ground plan of the RG tomb by Canina (1846)

Finally we have also a bronze holmos that was standing in antechambre.  The combination holmos – lebes is very common for ceramic versions (see examples below), so we could envision that one of the lebetes was positioned on the holmos.

Holmos

Bronze holmos from the RG tomb in the Vatican Museum

lebeti on holmos

Several examples of lebetes on top of a holmos support

All inside views of the tomb by Grifi and Canina (see below) show that the two tripods next to the bronze bed are empty, so we have three lebetes, five possible supports for the lebetes and two of them are empty, so this looks easy : we put the two iron tripods in the cella with a large and a small lebes on top, and we put the third lebes on the holmos (see 3D visualisation).

inside view by Canina

Inside view of the RG tomb by Canina (1846)

But this does not comply with the available evidence, the holmos is always depicted empty, both in perspective views (see image above) and in the plan views by Grifi and Canina below (indicated as B).  Pareti notes very correctly that the heavy lebetes could not be put on the holmos, which is made of thin sheets of bronze, and not capable of carrying heavy weights.  So it is quite probable that the holmos did not carry any object at the closure of the tomb.

entrance RG tomb Grifi 1836

The entrance of the RG tomb by Grifi (1836)

entrance RG tomb Canina 1846

The entrance of the RG tomb by Canina (1846)

And there are more observations that lead us to believe that the holmos was not used as support for another object.  First of all, we have to notice that the bronze holmos is not at all functional, it is most probably a bronze replica of a ceramic holmos.  A ceramic holmos  was used for cooking and warming food, with charcoal burning in the cone shaped foot of the holmos and hot air flowing between the bell shaped top part of the holmos and cauldron, standing on the holmos.  The top part of the bronze holmos of the RG tomb is closed on the inside, so it can not function at all, hence it is a replica for funeral use, depicting a household device for cooking.  Also, nearly every holmos we know today is made of ceramic material, there are nearly no bronze ones.

ceramic holmos with bronze cauldron

Bronze cauldron on ceramic holmos (Tomb of Boccoris, Tarquinia, 8th cent BCE, Museo Nazionale, Tarquinia)

Secondly, it has been proposed that incense could be burning in the top part of the bronze holmos.  Although this is completely contradictory to the function that this bronze holmos mimics, this is technically possible.  But there is other evidence that contradicts such a use.  If we consider the tripods as supports for incense burning, and if we look closer to all available tripods, we see that all of the tripods have supports to put fire under the recipient that contains the incense.  So it looks like the incense was heated, not burned.  Mrs. Hamilton Grey, who visited the RG tomb in 1838, describes in her book Tour to the sepulchres of Etruria, pg. 25 : “…a tripod, with a vessel containing some strange looking lumps of a resinous substance, and which on being burnt proved to be perfumes so intensely strong, that those who tried them were obliged to leave the room“. So maybe the incense was not supposed to be burned, but to be heated.

In the same book, Mrs. Hamilton Grey writes (pg. 334) on the other hand: “One vase for perfumes, also made of bronze, stood towards the entrance, consisting of three globes, one above the other; near to which there was something like a candelabra, and beyond it, just at the door, was a tripod surmounted by a vessel in which incense had been burned, probably during the funeral rites, to prevent infection.”  This description again hints at the same conclusions above: at the entrance, there was a holmos without any other vessel on top, then an elaborated tripod (“candelabra”, see top image) without any vessel, then another type of tripod with a vessel on top, in which we can locate the resinous incense that she describes on pg. 25.

All this brings us to the conclusion that in the cella, there were incense burners with even incense in them, while in the antechambre, all supports, that can be interpreted as incense burners, are empty.  This looks pretty much like another mystery…  One of the next blog entries will try to solve this mystery !

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.