ROME, Italy (Reuters) -- Archaeologists have discovered a more than 2,000-year-old Etruscan tomb perfectly preserved in the hills of Tuscany with a treasure trove of artifacts inside, including urns that hold the remains of about 30 people.
The tomb, in the Tuscan town of Civitella Paganico, probably dates from between the 1st and 3rd centuries B.C., when Etruscan power was in decline, Andrea Marcocci, who led digging at the site, told Reuters.
"It's quite rare to find a tomb intact like this," said Marcocci, who had suspected one might exist in the area after work on a nearby road scattered pieces of artifacts.
"When we found fragments outside, we thought we would find that the tomb had been violated. But the main burial room was completely intact."
Inside the tomb, a narrow corridor led to a small burial chamber, about 2 meters long and 1.79 meters wide, he said. It housed about 80 objects including vases and mirrors in bronze and ceramic. Urns holding human remains were also found.
"It's quite exceptional to find so many objects in a tomb so small," Marcocci said. "Some of the vases (urns) were fairly small, so we think they were probably for children."
One of Italy's first and most mysterious civilizations, the Etruscans lived north of Rome in present day regions of Tuscany and Umbria. Their civilization lasted for about 1,000 years, reaching its height roughly from the 7th to the 6th century B.C., before its cities were replaced by Roman settlements.
Much of what is known about the Etruscans derives from other lavish burial sites, decorated with paintings and filled with vases and other objects. E-mail to a friend
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