Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!
Umbrian Tombs Volume 50 Number 4, July/August 1997
by Giovanni Lattanzi

[image]Umbri-Nartes grave under excavation in Terni, Italy, dates to ca. 650-550 B.C. (Giovanni Lattanzi) [LARGER IMAGE]

An ancient necropolis with at least 36 burials was found during excavation for a building foundation in the Umbrian city of Terni, north of Rome. The burials belonged to a people known as the Umbri-Nartes, who lived in the region at least from the Bronze Age (ca. 2500-750 B.C.) up to the Roman conquest in the early third century B.C. So far archaeologists, directed by Laura Bonomi of the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Perugia, have excavated 31 of the graves. These contained the bones of 16 women, 15 men, and two children. Judging by the artifacts, the burials date between ca. 650 and 550 B.C. Among the grave goods were Etruscan bronze bowls, and Etruscan bucchero and Sabine-Faliscan pottery. Women were often buried with spindle whorls, rocchetti (small, spool-shaped terra-cotta objects thought to have been used in weaving or as stamping devices), and fibulae. One woman's grave also contained a loom weight, an iron spindle, and a clay block weighing about 48 pounds. The clay may have been used in treating wool before making yarn. The men's burials contained iron weapons indicating the ranks of individual warriors: a lance or javelin alone signified a soldier of lower rank; a sword, a lance, and two javelins, someone of higher rank. The men appear to have been quite tall for the period, the tallest being about five feet nine inches.

© 1997 by the Archaeological Institute of America