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VULCI Italy.

An Etruscan city on the Fiora river ca. 144 km N of Rome. It was mentioned by the ancient geographers (Plin. HN 3.51,52; Ptol. 3.1.43-49; Steph. Byz., s.v.) and marginally by other Classical writers (Festus 536 L 16-18; Ar Adv. Nat. 6.7). It was subdued by Rome in 280 B.C. In its territory, where important centers such as Regisvilla, Forum Aurelii, and the pagi of Ischia, Castro, and Pescia Romana developed, the Latin colony of Cosa was founded in 273 B.C.

The city rises on a high almost quadrangular plateau, bathed on the E side by the Fiora. It was enclosed by a wall of tufa blocks, which dates to the 4th c. B.C. Several stretches of it and at least two gates are known. A wide road with a N-S axis constitutes the backbone of the inhabited area. Along it are placed a grandiose temple ad alae from the 4th c. B.C. with a plan identical to the so-called Ara della Regina at Tarquinia; a beautiful domus from the 1st c. B.C. with cryptoportico, nymphaeum, and small private baths; and a chapel dedicated to Hercules with an annex for housing the youths. During excavations in the 18th c. many public buildings were discovered, including the forum and the baths; but the plans and locations of these buildings are today unknown. At the edge of the city near the N gate was a sanctuary with a votive deposit from the 1st c. B.C.

Two beautiful bridges spanned the Fiora. The Rotto bridge, poorly preserved, had five arches and carried the Via Aurelia vetus. The majestic bridge of the Badia, of the 1st c. B.C., had three arches, of which the central one was 20 m wide and 70 m high. Necropoleis extend to the N and E of Vulci and contain a great number of tombs; more than 15,000 have been excavated, largely in the 19th c. The oldest tombs are in the N necropoleis in the locality called Osteria and at Cavalupo, Ponte Rotto and Polledrara in the E necropoleis. They consist of pit tombs of Villanovian culture from the 9th to the 8th c. B.C., often with a tufa cover, containing biconical cineraria or cineraria a capanna with accompanying vases and objects of personal adornment. Two tombs in the N necropoleis are particularly noteworthy. One contained a small Sardinian bronze from the 9th c. B.C. and the other an urn a capanna in bronze from the middle of the 8th c. B.C. In the second half of the 8th c. B.C. the use of pit graves appeared, with rich gifts characterized by bronzes and by Italo-geometric pottery clearly of Euboean-Cycladean inspiration. From the beginning of the 7th c. B.C. chamber tombs were used, preceded by a room open to the sky. Among these tombs a recently excavated chamber is notable for the richness of the bronzes it contained, including several orientalizing vessels.

By the end of the 7th c., besides Greek pottery, these tombs contained the characteristic Etrusco-Corinthian ceramics as well as the local bucchero; and a few decades later the high relief sculptures representing animals, monsters, and centaurs were placed as guards at the entrances of the graves. To this late orientalizing phase belong the tomba del Sole e della Luna with eight chambers having decorated ceilings in the N necropoleis, the stately and still not well-known tumulus almost 65 m in diameter called la Cuccumella, and the tomba di Iside. The latter contained an alabaster statuette, Egyptian scarabs, figured alabastra, decorated ostrich eggs, and an interesting hydria of local manufacture. The 6th and 5th c. chamber tombs are among the richest in Attic ceramics in the Mediterranean, and the importation of this ware declines only after the middle of the 5th c. B.C. At the beginning of the 4th c., with the economic and political revival of Etruria, numerous large tombs were built with a central T-shaped room and lateral cells. This type is represented by several beautiful hypogea. The “François” tomb had exceptional frescos with representations of the deceased, mythological scenes, and a very rare representation of the Etruscan saga of Mastarna, Servius Tullius.

After these tombs of the 4th c., more modest hypogea with a single chamber or with a central corridor were built, from which open burial cells in the 3d and 2d c. B.C. They reflect the decline of Vulci during the Roman period. The city was abandoned in the 8th c. The material excavated is dispersed among the principal museums of Europe. In Italy they are preserved at the Museum of the Villa Giulia in Rome for the most part and in the local museum of Vulci (Castello della Badia).


F. Messerschmidt et al., Nekropolen von Vulci (1930)MPI; R. Bartoccini, in Atti del VII Congresso di Archeologia Classica, Roma 1958, II (1960) 257-81MPI; EAA 7 (1966) 1208-14 (M. Torelli)P; A. Hus, Vulci (1971).


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