(“Volsinii Veteres”) Italy.
Although identification as Volsinii is tentative, Orvieto was
a major Etruscan city; other identifications proposed for
it, Fanum Voltumnae and Salpinum, are less attractive.
It stands on a high, isolated tufa mesa above the plain
of the river Paglia, not far from the Tiber.
Although traces of occupation dating from the Stone
Age have been found, and recently Villanovan material,
it is only with the appearance of the Etruscans that the
city achieved brilliance. In two necropoleis, one on the
S slope of the site at Cannicella, the other on the N slope
at Crocefisso del Tufo, series of burials dating from the
8th to the 3d c. B.C., but of the greatest wealth from mid
6th to the end of the 5th c., have come to light. At
Crocefisso del Tufo most are in small tombs of a single
chamber with places for two occupants. The tombs are
solidly built of tufa blocks with a name inscribed over
the low door, roofed with corbeled vaults given a true
keystone, and capped by low tumuli crowned with cippi
of many shapes. They are laid out in straight streets
meeting at right angles but seem to have been built for
the most part individually. There are also a number of
cremation graves a pozzetto
. Most of the tombs of
Cannicella were similar but could not be laid out with
such regularity; these have now been reburied. There
was also here a late group of tombs a cassone
with phalliform cippi. A third necropolis at Settecamini
produced three large painted tombs, late 4th to early
3d c.; the paintings have been removed to the Museo
Archeologico in Florence. The contents of the tombs
are often of high quality and have enriched many
museums; the finds of Attic painted pottery are especially
splendid. Many of the elements of the names on the
tombs are not Etruscan, from which Pallottino concludes
that a metic population was early admitted and then
Of the city itself we know far less; even the general
lines of its plan are unclear. A large temple was discovered in 1828 near the E end of the site (Belvedere).
Since only foundations survive, it is impossible to say
whether it was triple-cella or of the “ala class.” It was
certainly tuscanic in effect, strongly frontal, raised on a
high podium behind a forecourt. The architectural terracottas indicate a building date in the 3d c.; other material is of Early Classical date.
Other finds of temple terracottas in Orvieto have been
uncommonly rich; they range in date from the late archaic period to Augustan, their concentration coming down to the 3d c., after which there is only a trickle. In no case were these found together with significant
remains of construction.
Near the center of the Cannicella necropolis was found
a long terrace wall against which was a sanctuary including a half life-size archaic statue of a nude goddess in Parian marble, a base with a place for offerings, and a large basin. The sanctuary had been destroyed by fire,
and votive material was scattered about. This remains
unique and enigmatic.
According to the historical record Volsinii fell to the
Romans in 265 B.C. and was sacked (Plin. HN
The population was then transferred elsewhere (Zonar.
8.7), and the site was virtually abandoned. This is in
agreement with what we know of Orvieto from archaeology. It does not reappear in history until the Gothic wars.
Archaeological material from Orvieto is kept in the
Museo Claudio Faina. A second important group is in
the Museo Archeologico in Florence.
A. Andrén, Architectural Terracottas
from Etrusco-Italic Temples
(1939-40) 153-203, pls. 58-76MPI
; Antike Plastik
7 (1967) 7-25 (A. Andrén)PI
M. Bizzarri, La necropoli di Crocefisso del Tufo in
1, 2 (1966)PI
(1970) 323-25 (H. Blanck).
L. RICHARDSON, JR.