Tarquinii - Encyclopedia

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TARQUINII (mod. Corneto Tarquinia, q.v.), an ancient city of Etruria, Italy, situated on a hill overlooking' the S.W. coast of Italy, about 5 m. N.W. of it. The site of the Roman town is now deserted, its last remains having been destroyed by the inhabitants of Corneto in 1307. Scanty remains of walling and of buildings of the Roman period exist above ground; traces of a large rectangular platform were found in 1876, and part of the thermae in 1829; it occupied the summit of a hill defended by ravines, called Piano di Civita. It seems probable, however, that the original settlement occupied the site of the medieval town of Corneto, to the W.S.W., on the further side of a deep valley. Some authorities indeed consider, and very likely with good reason, that this was the site of the Etruscan city, and that the Piano di Civita, which lies further inland and commands but little view of the sea, was only occupied in Roman times. The case would be parallel to others in Etruria, e.g. Civita Castellana (anc. Falerii) which also occupies the site of the Etruscan city, while the Roman site, some distance away, is now abandoned. The importance of Tarquinii to archaeologists lies mainly in its necropolis, situated to the S.E. of the medieval town, on the hill which, from the tumuli raised above the tombs, bears the name of Monterozzi. The tombs themselves are of various kinds. The oldest are tombe a pozzo, or shaft graves, containing the ashes of the dead in an urn, of the Villanova period, the oldest of them probably pre-Etruscan; in some of these tombs hut urns, like those of Latium, are found. Next come the various kinds of inhumation graves, the most important of which are rock-hewn chambers, many of which contain well-preserved paintings of various periods; some show close kinship to archaic Greek art, while others are more recent, and one, the Grotta del Tifone (so called from the typhons, or winged genii of death, represented) in which Latin as well as Etruscan inscriptions appear, belongs perhaps to the middle of the 4th century B.C. Fine sarcophagi from these tombs, some showing traces of painting, are preserved in the municipal museum, and also numerous fine Greek vases, bronzes and other objects.

Tarquinii is said to have been already a flourishing city when Demaratus of Corinth brought in Greek workmen. It was the chief of the twelve cities of Etruria, and appears in the earliest history of Rome as the home of two of its kings, Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus. From it many of the religious rites and ceremonies of Rome are said to have been derived, and even in imperial times a collegium of sixty haruspices continued to exist there. The people of Tarquinii and Veii attempted to restore Tarquinius Superbus to the throne after his expulsion. In 358 B.C. the citizens of Tarquinii captured and put to death 307 Roman soldiers; the resulting war ended in 351 with a forty years' truce, renewed for a similar period in 308. When Tarquinii came under Roman domination is uncertain, as is also the date at which it became a municipality; in 181 B.C. its port, Graviscae (mod. Porto Clementino), in an unhealthy position on the low coast, became a Roman colony. It exported wine and carried on coral fisheries. Nor do we hear much of it in Roman times; it lay on the hills above the coast road. The flax and forests of its extensive territory are mentioned by classical authors, and we find Tarquinii offering to furnish Scipio with sailcloth in 195 B.C. A bishop of Tarquinii is mentioned in A.D. 456.

See L. Dasti, Notizie Storiche archeologiche di Tarquinia e Corneto (Rome, 1878); G. Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (London, 1883), i. 301 sqq.; Notizie degli Scavi, passim, especially 1885, 513 sqq.; E. Bormann in Corp. Inscr. Lat., xi. (Berlin, 1888), p. 510 sqq.; G. K&rte, s.v. " Etrusker" in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyklopddie, vi. 730 sqq. (T. As.)

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