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The 2011 Campaign: The "Piazzaletto”

In 2011 the surveys continued for over two months, from July 20 to September 30. The complexity of excavation operations required the involvement of different specialists: restorers, geologists and topographers intervened side by side with archaeologists and drafters.
The ample sky open entry (the "Piazzaletto"), partially investigated in 2010, was fully revealed: it is wide almost 6 meters and long more than 8. The walls maintain ample portions of the native plaster, with traces of painting in red and black.
A monumental stairway drawn in the rock, composed from at least 12 steps, leads to a space for the funeral rites. Relatives of the dead and dignitaries probably assisted to the ceremonies on the staircases and on the side benches consisting of a double step. After the obsequies the "Piazzaletto" was not immediately buried: it can be assumed that it was regularly attended by the descendants of the founder of the tumulus and it uphold the meetings of the powerful aristocratic groups in charge of the Tarquinian community. In mid-tier, three postholes probably points out the presence of an original wooden roof made to protect the environment.
Three chambers open onto this space like a theater: the middle one is still to be investigated, but the two side chambers were dug right in 2011. The right chamber still introduced the closing slab (broken in the superior part by the robbers): its removal was without doubt the most exciting moment of this campaign.
The three-chamber scheme is a novelty in comparison to the planimetry of the large Tarquinian tumuli, derived from those Cypriots (a large access door to a single environment): the workers engaged in the construction of this grave reworked an external model, subjecting it to local needs. The “Tumulus of the Queen” is therefore a really exceptional monument because of the unusual structure of the entry and due to the presence of the plaster in alabastrine gypsum, whose use, frequent in the eastern Mediterranean, it was, as far as we know, unknown in Italy.
 
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