BMCR 2022.12.02

Velathri Volaterrae: la città etrusca e il municipio romano

, , Velathri Volaterrae: la città etrusca e il municipio romano. Atti del convegno di studi (Volterra, 21-22 settembre 2017). Biblioteca di "Studi etruschi," 64. Roma: Giorgio Bretschneider, 2021. Pp. xviii, 463. ISBN 9788876893292 €110,00.

The impeccably edited and abundantly illustrated conference papers present ancient and new views on and discoveries in and around Etruscan and Roman Volterra. The following short survey of its rich contents is limited to the Etruscan period.

Giovannangelo Camporeale (who died in 2017) presents a summary of the city’s uninterrupted material history during the Etruscan period. He holds that the city developed, like other Etruscan cities, from a sacred place on the acropolis between ca. 650 and 600 BC.

Stefano Bruni shows how people in the eleventh and twelfth century AD believed in a very high status (un primato) of the city. Discoveries in the Portone-, Lecceto- and Monte Bradoni necropoleis, however, changed earlier speculations on the role of the city. Anton Francesco Gori’s archaeological activities led to the creation of a public museum in a room of Palazzo dei Priori.

Excavations by Anna Maria Esposito in piazzetta dei Fornelli (to the north of Porta all’Arco) show continuous building activities from the Final Bronze Age and the Villanova period (ca. 900-700 BC) until the Augustan period. She found huts and many pottery kilns. Alberto Agresto analyses the remains of the oldest phase, and Eleonora Bechi and Luca Capuccini study the vase sherds of the Orientalising period. Bucchero, Protocorinthian and the oldest Etrusco-Corinthian ceramics illustrate the existence of a network between southern Etruria, Volterra and the Po Valley. The piazzetta got buildings in the Late Orientalising period. In the second century BC part of a water channel was covered with black glazed pottery and vases in superimposed colour that, according to Sara Biagini and Luca Cappuccini, were locally produced.

Giacomo Baldini presumes that the proto-urban center already took shape in the Final Bronze Age.

Lisa Rosselli analyses those remains from aristocratic cremation tombs of the necropolis delle Ripaie that date to ca. 750-600 BC, some of which belonged to warrior chiefs. Marisa Bonamici pays attention to Ligurian coarse ceramics from the sanctuary of the acropolis, perhaps imported by immigrant mercenaries who had been defeated by Rome between 238 and 218 BC.

Emanuele Taccola discovered the remains of a collective libation made at the deactivation of the late-archaic temple in the sanctuary mentioned between ca. 350 and 300 BC, when the long city walls (7.2 km) were built. The area was used for metallurgical activities until temple A was built, around 200-180 BC.

Irene Bianchi and Luca Cappuccini comment on the sounding in the small space made for the elevator in Museo Guarnacci, twenty years ago. Apart from walls from the Orientalising and Hellenistic periods, several ceramics including bucchero were found.

Adriano Maggiani lists the origin of type of Etruscan letter forms in the last seven centuries BC. He also deals with thirty three different terracotta urns, some of very high quality, made between 320-300 and 100 BC. They have nothing in common with those in Chiusi and Perugia. The author presumes that some of these urns, e.g. one showing Achilles killing Troilus (ca. 220-180 BC), were used as models for the production of alabaster urns.

Luciano Agostiniani and Riccardo Massarelli (specialist on Etruscan defixiones) pay attention to particular features of the Etruscan language used in the last four centuries BC: the mi ma formula (‘I am’), the use of the verbal lexeme leine (‘he lives’ instead of ‘he dies’, p. 270) and the ending of female gentilicia in –ai instead of –ei. Since, however, the words mi ma are only present on stelae and cippi (G. Meiser, Etruskische Texte, Vt 1.56, 1.71, 1.72, 1.100, 1.145, 1.149, 1.168) I do not exclude that the ma means gravestone, cf. ET Vt 1.168: mi. ma. suthic. l. fulus. ls (‘I (am) the gravestone and tomb of Larth Fulu, son of Laris’).

Marjatta Nielsen shows that the Hellenistic urn production did not cease after Sulla’s siege in 80 BC. She deals with the most recent cinerary urns, the latest of which can be dated around AD 40.

Fiorenzo Catalli focuses on the mint of Volterra that produced aes grave with the theoretical weight of a  libra of 151.60 g. These cast bronze coins with a double-faced head on one side and the legend Velathri on the other have been found in third century BC tombs. They may have been produced before the First Punic War that started in 264 BC. They were also found at many places in inner northern Etruria (p. 323, fig. 1).

Marinella Pasquinucci, inspired by Strabo’s description of Volterra (Strabo, V 2, 6 C 223), recommends the use of GIS applications and (multi-)sensory maps, and Elena Sorge has the intention to draft an archaeological city map and catalogue 3D digital maps of the monuments that can be dated before the end of late antiquity.

Fabrizio Burchianti, director of Museo Guarnacci, presents the history of the museum and its thorough rebuilding.

The book has no general index but all papers have excellent bibliographies. It contains English abstracts of all papers.


Authors and titles

Storia degli studi
G. Camporeale, Volterra etrusca e l’archeologia, 3-14
S. Bruni, La conferma di un primato: le scoperte del 1731 e la nascita del museo, pp. 15-38

Prima della città
A. M. Esposito, Volterra: origini e sviluppo della città. Lo scavo di piazzetta dei Fornelli, pp. 41-54
A. Agresti, Lo scavo di piazzetta dei Fornelli. I materiali delle fasi più antiche, pp. 55-75
E. Bechi – L. Cappuccini, Osservazioni preliminari sulla ceramica orientalizzante dallo scavo di piazzetta dei Fornelli, pp. 77-92
E. Pacciani – F. Caracci – R. Cheli – S. Gori, La tomba ad inumazione dallo scavo di piazzetta dei Fornelli, pp. 93-103
L. Rosselli, Volterra tra il periodo tardo-villanoviano e l’Orientalizzante: testimonianze dalla necropoli delle Ripaie, pp. 105-134
G. Baldini, Poleogenesi volterrana. Materiali per un aggiornamento alla luce delle ultime ricerche, pp. 135-158

Velathri. L’area urbana e le necropoli
M. Bonamici, Ceramiche liguri dal santuario dell’acropoli, pp. 161-180
E. Taccola, Il santuario dell’acropoli nella prima età ellenistica: nuovi dati dalle recenti indagini, pp. 181-196
I. Bianchi – L. Cappuccini, L’indagine nel Museo Guarnacci di Volterra: proposte per una nuova lettura dei dati di scavo, pp. 197-215
S. Biagini – L. Cappuccini, Appunti su alcune ceramiche ellenistiche da piazzetta dei Fornelli, pp. 217-241
A. Maggiani, Origine e sviluppo della scrittura a Volterra, pp. 243-259
L. Agostiniani – R. Massarelli, Considerazioni sull’etrusco di Volterra, pp. 261-278
A. Maggiani, Le urne cinerarie fittili di Volterra. Una produzione marginale?, pp. 279-296
M. Nielsen, Da Velathri a Volaterrae: identità etrusca nelle urne volterrane alle soglie della piena romanizzazione, pp. 297-320
F. Catalli, La zecca etrusca di Volterra, pp. 321-326

Volaterrae. Il municipio romano
M. Pasquinucci, Velathri-Volaterrae tra forma e percezione, pp. 329-339
E. Sorge, L’anfiteatro di Volterra: la scoperta e le prospettive, pp. 341-362
A. Pizzigati, Capitelli e scaenae frons del teatro romano di Volterra, pp. 363-382
W. Fuchs, A study of the geometric and architectural composition of the Roman theater in Volterra, pp. 383-398
V. d’Aquino, Novità sulle terme di Vallebuona, pp. 399-408
G. De Tommaso – M. Fusi, I reperti in vetro del Museo Guarnacci di Volterra, pp. 409-416

Strumenti per la tutela e la valorizzazione
E. Sorge, Materiali per la Carta Archeologica della città di Volterra, pp. 419-435
C. Battini – A. Morelli, Rilievo digitale e indagini geofisiche: integrazione di informazioni per la conoscenza dell’anfiteatro di Volterra, pp. 437-442
F. Burchianti, Verso il nuovo Museo Guarnacci, pp. 443- 454