(Cerveteri) Latium, Italy.
Etruscan town on a long tufa plateau 8 km from the
sea and isolated from the surrounding plain by two small
rivers, the Fosso del Manganello and the Fosso della
Mola. Legend attributes its foundation to Thessalian
invaders (Herod. 1.167; Diod. 15.14
; Dion. Hal. 1.20;
3.58), its name deriving from invasion by Tyrrhenians.
The town was allied with the Carthaginians in a successful battle against Phokaians in the Sardinian Sea
(ca. 535 B.C.). In spite of a sudden change of alliance
with the Tarquinii in 353 B.C., the town received civitas
sine suffragio from Rome for help in battling the Gauls.
But in 293 B.C. (Livy 7.19.6
) or 273 B.C. (Dion. Hal.
fr. 33 Boissevain), a revolt of the Etruscans deprived
Caere of its independence (Fest. 155L, 262L) and of
half of its territory, the coastal strip where the Romans
founded four colonies, Fregenae, Alsium, Pyrgi, and
Castrum Novum. Caere's decline dates from this period, and by early Imperial times the once great metropolis was no more than a village (Strab. 5.2.3
At least six temples are known, of which only two
have been officially excavated: one on the N ridge (the
so-called Manganello temple) and another nearby dedicated to Hera and frequented by Greek merchants as
painted inscriptions indicate. Some 18th c. excavations
revealed extensive Roman buildings, including a theater,
a portico, and an Augusteum (now covered over). Some
stretches of city walls of the 4th c. B.C. can be seen
along the ridge.
Three cemeteries are known: the largest on a hilltop
NW of the town (Banditaccia), another on a similar
height on the other side of the town (Monte Abatone),
and the third on the S slopes of the hill (Sorbo) on
which the town stands.
Two Iron Age necropoleis of Villanovan type, one on
Sorbo and one at Cava della Pozzalana on the Banditaccia side, contained large and rich chamber tombs,
normally two rooms on the same axis, dug in the tufa
rock. Of the richest graves, which show conspicuous
mounds, one was partially built of huge tufa blocks and
displays a corbeled vault. It contained furnishings of
gold, silver, and bronze. By the mid 7th c. B.C. tomb
architecture became more elaborate and in the 6th c.
mounds were bordered by tufa moldings and preceded
by funerary altars. Later in the same century the tufa
was carved to simulate ceilings, funerary beds, thrones,
and architectural moldings. During the same period an
attempt was made to impose a plan on the cities of the
dead with a grid of streets and long rows of facades for
middle class burials. By the beginning of the 4th c. large
chambers underground served for dozens of burials.
Some are similar to Greek heroa, some contain niche
burials. From the 3d to the 1st c. B.C. only poor graves
are evident, mostly reusing older tombs.
L. Pareti, La Tomba Regolini-Galassi
; B. Pace et al., “Caere, Scavi di R. Mengarelli,”
Monumenti Antichi Pubblicati dall'Accademia dei Lincei
2 (1959) 518-21 (M. Pallottino);
M. Cristofani, “Caere,” CIE
2,1.4 (1970) 398-491M