Entombed Etruscan Was Expert Embroiderer

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Skeletal remains found last month in an untouched Etruscan tomb likely belonged to an aristocratic woman (not a prince, as earlier reported) buried alongside a spear and her sewing needles.

Analysis revealed that a small bronze box found beside the skeleton in Tarquinia contain the needles -- and some thread.

"X-rays showed the perfectly sealed box contains at least five needles, some threads remains and perhaps a sewing reel," Alfonsina Russo, Superintendent archaeologist for Southern Etruria, told Discovery News.

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An Etruscan house emerges from a hillside in Italy.
DCL

The precious box was found at the feet of the skeleton, along with a large bronze basin and a smaller dish.

According to University of Turin Alessandro Mandolesi, director of the excavation, it was produced by recycling parts of an older artifact, possibly an 8th-7th-century BC shield. It was probably passed down generations until it reached the noble woman.

"This object and its contents identifies the woman as an embroiderer. It is well known the Etruscans were skilled in textile activities. Indeed, several tombs in Tarquinia feature frescoes depicting finely embroidered draperies," Russo added.

A fun-loving and eclectic people, the Etruscans began to flourish around 900 B.C., and dominated much of Italy for five centuries. During the fifth century B.C., as the Romans grew in power, they began to decline. By 300-100 B.C., their civilization eventually became absorbed into the Roman empire.

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Since their puzzling, non-Indo-European language was virtually extinguished (they left no literature to document their society), the Etruscans have long been considered one of antiquity's great enigmas.Much of what we know about them comes from their cemeteries. Only the richly decorated tombs they left behind have provided clues to fully reconstruct their history.

Blocked by a perfectly sealed stone slab for 2,600 years, the small vaulted chamber also contained the partially incinerated remains of another individual.

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