Tag Archives: lebes

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.

 

First version of the interactive application

10 Oct

The interactive application, that will be inaugurated in the Allard Pierson museum in Amsterdam on October 13, 2011, and in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden on October 14, 2011, is working.  The application allows to interactively explore the Regolini-Galassi tomb by walking on a map of the tomb.  In the next blog entry, we will explain in detail how the application works.

tomb overview

View when enetering the tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

This first version of the application shows already about 80 objects that were digitised in the last two months.  More objects 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 of the Vatican Museums.  Some objects (such as the cauldron with griffin heads above) were modelled by automatic photogrammetry from images.  Other objects could rely on physical reconstructions such as the chariot below.

chariot

View on the objects in the dromos (entrance) (image: CNR-ITABC)

Many objects need more work, as most objects still need to go through a process of extensive digital restoration to bring them back in their original  state at the moment of the burial.  This includes removal of corrosion and repair of broken or damaged parts. For others, the current reconstruction needs to be revised, based upon the most recent archaeological understanding about these objects (such as the chariot above).

cart and bed

View on the objects in the antechamber (image: CNR-ITABC)

Some objects were the result of extensive digital restoration. The situla for example (see image below) was recreated digitally based upon the current physical restoration.  This recreation was made by simulating the production processes of the object, such as engraving and embossing the sheet of silver that is wrapped around the wooden bucket.

situla

View on the main burial chamber (cella) (image: CNR-ITABC)

For the first time, a visualisation is shown of the woman, buried in the Regolini-Galassi tombe.  Currently, we have limited the visualisation of the objects to the golden pectoral and the golden disc fibula, but future work will add more jewels, and the fibulae and golden leave decoration on the shroud.

pectoral

View on the deceased princess (image: CNR-ITABC)

A lot of new research was done to concerning the position of the golden disc fibula.  As we could not prove from iconography that the shroud was used to cover the face, and as other research showed that such a fibula was rather placed on the abdomen, we stick in our visualisation to the second hypothesis we have proposed, in favour of placing the fibula on the face (see image below).

fibula

View on the disc fibula (image: CNR-ITABC)

A short movie, showing this first version of the VR application in action, can be found here.  The Etruscanning partners will continue to improve the VR application in its current form and develop new ways of visualisation and interaction for the next exhibition in Tongeren, Belgium at the end of 2012.

In the upcoming blogs, we will not only show the installation and the application in action, but also shown more details about the modelling and digital restoration of the objects, and about the storytelling paradigm of the VR application.

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.

 

Digitisation of museum objects

25 Aug

The digitisation of some museum objects from the Regolini-Galassi tomb has started on August 24.  The photographic department of the Vatican Museums has made extensive and specific photography that will allow us to create 3D models, that will be used in the exhibitions in Amsterdam and Leiden (Netherlands) from October 13 2011 onwards.

turntable

The restoration expert puts a silver vase on the turntable (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

The objects were put on a turntable and in an object tent that allows to have a very even lighting on the objects.

object tent

Photographing the objects with the object tent (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

As we want the 3D objects to look like new (as we reconstruct the tomb just after closure), most of the work goes into digital restoration of the objects, or by hand modeling based upon the existing or new photography, or by editing the digitised models (made by dense stereomatching of photographs).  The resulting 3D models will be optimised and visualised in real-time with special techniques to obtain a high degree of realism without an excessive amount of data.

lebete

The 6-headed lebes nearly ready for photography in the object tent (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

Several objects were documented through the Object VR technique, by photographing the object while it is rotated on a turntable.  In the image below, the 6-headed lebes is recorded in 36 photographs with consecutive rotations of 10 degrees.  These images do not only provide a very detailed documentation of the object but allow also for future use on the internet or in multimedia systems in exhibitions.

Object VR

Documentation of the 5-headed lebes through Object VR photography (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

The Etruscanning team is very greatful to the team of the Vatican museums for the excellent cooperation in this three day digitisation effort.

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.

Objects do speak

20 Aug

While we’re preparing for some extra photography and digitisation of objects from the Regolini-Galassi tomb in the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, we studied the objects from new photography we kindly received from this museum.  And indeed, the objects do tell us an important story, that can be crucial in the visualisation decisions we need to make for the virtual reconstruction of the Regolini-Galassi tomb in the 7th century BC.

Let’s focus here on two objects that are on display in the museum (see image below). The first object is the bronze holmos, a symbolic replica of a ceramic holmos, that was used in Etruscan times as a stand to warm food and that was put in the tomb for the deceased to be able to continue to feast in the afterlife.  We see that this object is deformed globally and has specific corrosion and deformation marks.  The second object is a bronze lebes, a cauldron that was probably used to serve wine, mixed with honey and spices.  With the lebes on top of the holmos, the rim sits at 1,24 m above ground level, which is quite OK for taking wine from the cauldron.

bronze holmos with lebete

Corrosion and deformation marks on a bronze holmos and lebes from the RG tomb before recent restoration (photo: Vatican Museums)

Corrosion and deformation marks on a bronze holmos and lebes from the RG tomb after recent restoration (photo: Vatican Museums)

Most of the perimeter of the conical foot of the holmos is corroded.  This can be understood easily as the holmos was standing on the damp floor of the tomb. The contact with the soil and the changing humidity in such a tomb trigger chemical processes that oxidise the bronze and corrode it locally.

holmos_detail2

The foot of the holmos is corroded due to contact with the damp floor (photo: Vatican Museums)

As shown in the image below, the bell shaped top part has a distinct deformation.  We think that this goes together with the corrosion of the foot, that made the holmos fall down and hit something, causing not only this local deformation, but also an overall deformation of the object, as can be observed from the top image.  Such a collapse only can happen if a heavy object such as the lebes was on top of the holmos  and would have reinforced the global and local deformation of the holmos.  From the excavation drawings, we know that the holmos was standing on the slightly sloping dromos, the access to the antechamber.

top detail of holmos

Top part of the holmos with distinct corroded (left) and deformed (right) zones (photo: Vatican Museums)

The top part has also a distinct corrosion pattern that only can be explained if the holmos was lying on the ground, and most of the top part was touching the damp floor of the tomb.  The lebes, that was potentially on top of the holmos, has the same kind of corrosion and deformation patterns (see image below). The object also has hit something significantly and has a large zone that is corroded away, probably through contant with the tomb floor.  As this zone is not the bottom part but a side part of the object, the corrosion is probably not due to the fact that the object was simply placed on the ground when being put in the tomb.  So it is quite possible that the lebes was on top of the holmos, and that both fell down due to the corrosion of the foot part of the holmos.  Both objects can have hit other objects or the wall of the tomb, the lebes can have rolled down the slope of the dromos (which had a steepness of about 5 degrees) to end up on an atypical place somewhere in the antechamber (so that the excavators didn’t see the relationship between the holmos and the lebes).

6-headed lebete

Deformation and corrosion patterns on the 6-headed lebes (photo: Vatican Museums)

This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the holmos – although in a restored state – is capable of carrying the smaller six-headed lebes, despite the remarks of Pareti (in the catalogue of the RG tomb objects in 1947) that the holmos is made of a thin sheet of bronze that cannot support the lebetes. This could be true for the larger and much more heavier 5-headed lebetes, but it works for the 6-headed lebes which is much lighter.

3D_dummy_holmos_and_lebete

Visualisation of the holmos and the 6-headed lebes through 3D dummy objects, separate and on top of each other (Visual Dimension)

We can conclude that both the 6-headed lebes and the bronze holmos contain specific corrosion and deformation patterns that make the hypothesis very plausible that they were together and on top of each other.  Further study will show if these observations are maybe the solution to the first and second Lebetes Mystery?  So, stay tuned and feel free to give your input and observations by posting a reply.

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 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.

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