The Etruscan Tomb at San Jacopo

Tumulo del Principe etrusco
Tumulo del principe etrusco, in zona S. Jacopo (alecobbe, wikimediacommons)

This is is a complex system of funeral monuments centering on a large tumulus or mound measuring thirty metres across. Around it, beyond a circle of steles (stones) are simpler burials inside small dolias (vases) positioned directly on the ground and covered by a mound of earth.
The tumulus is bordered by thin stone slabs inserted vertically into the ground, beyond which were equidistant pairs of large monoliths. Two slabs, perpendicular to the perimeter in the north-west sector once supported a wooden step at the entrance to the tumulus, where a large square pit held a wooden coffin. This contained pottery fragments and animal bones, probably the remains of a funeral ceremony. Later, the pit was carefully filled with small stones and coveredwith earth up to the top of the stone slabs. Inside, a small triangular space filled with sterile clay was left, containing a large iron trident with the shaft ceremonially broken.
A large stone altar stood above the burial, discovered partly dismantled, but with a number of objects and fragments of animal bones still lying on the top. Beside the altar was a big dolio sealed with a lid, containing a large quantity of ashes, bronze nails and some thin gold wire, perhaps part of an earring, that could be the remains of a kolossós, that is to say, an image burnt on the funeral pyre in place of the missing body of the dead person.

Considering the absence of human remains, the tomb must be the cenotaph of a seafaring prince, as the trident indicates. Analysis of the material recovered dates the cenotaph to the first quarter of the 7th century BC.