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Stone sarcophagi of Etruria: renewing research in the digital era

Project description

Advanced tools to study Etruscan sarcophagi

Stone sarcophagi hold significant importance in Etruscan funerary art and craftsmanship. They were primarily crafted from the 4th to the 2nd centuries BC in southern Etruria, with a particular focus on the region around the city of Tarquinia. However, publications on these artefacts have primarily focused on decorated pieces dating from the Hellenistic era. The EU-funded SETRU-2.0 project is set to undertake an extensive examination of the artefacts. The project will create a reference publication that goes beyond artistic and stylistic considerations. It will conduct a thorough inventory of these objects and produce a methodology that can be applied to future discoveries and other handmade products. Advanced tools such as 2.5D and 3D surveying will facilitate this endeavour.


Stone sarcophagi are one of the most important witnesses of Etruscan funerary art and craftmanship. Although a few examples are
attested between the 8th and the 5th centuries BC (Orientalist, Archaic and Classical periods), most of the production dates from the
4th-2nd centuries BC (Hellenistic period) and is mainly distributed in the necropolises of the southern Etruria (northern Lazio), and
more specifically in the territory of the city of Tarquinia. The reference publication on these objects dates from the mid-20th century
and concerns only Hellenistic decorated pieces, studied through the prism of art history (iconography, stylistics); it was expanded in
1974 and 2004 to form a corpus of ca. 420 decorated sarcophagi well preserved. The undecorated specimens have never been taken
into consideration, even though they represent between half and two third of the Etruscan stone sarcophagi of this period. The
earliest examples have never been the subject of a synthetic study any more.
The SETRU-2.0 project aims to fill the gaps in research on all Etruscan stone sarcophagi and to establish a new reference publication
that goes beyond artistic and stylistic considerations, through a complete inventory these objects and a methodological guide
applicable to future discoveries and other type of handmade products. Its originality lies in the fact that it considers the entire
production (from the 8th to the 2nd century BC; sarcophagi whole or fragmentary, decorated or not, painted or not, inscribed or not,
of fine or coarse workmanship), on a global and interdisciplinary approach (archaeology, art history, epigraphy, geology,
anthropology, etc.), and on the implementation of a specific methodology, from the study of tool marks to the use of 2.5 and 3D
surveying (RTI, photogrammetry, lasergrammetry) and analysis tools and techniques (GIS, 3D modelling). This project is definitively
innovative for this class of object and more widely in Etruscology.


Net EU contribution
€ 188 590,08
Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
00185 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data