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The Tumulus Between The East And West Mediterranean

The model that inspired the construction of monumental funeral tombs of Etruria belongs to the tradition of the Near East: in the interior of Minor Asia, gigantic artificial hills indicated the most important royal depositions; at Gordion, capital of the kingdom of Phrygia, the tumulus of the "King Midas" has a diameter of 250 m and a height of 50. Centers of Etruria transposed the architectural scheme of Eastern unevenly, mixing different cultural influences, constantly mediated by local tradition.
Orientalizing Tarquinia stands for striking parallels with the royal tombs of Salamis in Cyprus, dating to the VIII-VII century B.C. These monumental tombs have entrances which lead to very large single burial chamber walls, sometimes with a pointed profile completed at the top with a slit sealed by slabs placed together.
The remarkable similarities between the planimetries of the great tumuli in Tarquinia and graves in Salamis suggests that this architectural model has been introduced directly from architects or head-master of Levantine origin.
Powerful local lords bowed to their demands the Cypriot system: ample entries, which welcomed rich grave goods, were quickly buried in Salamis, while they remained open, at least for a while, as for the funeral services in Tarquinia. In two specific cases (the “Tumulus of Luzi” and the “Tumulus of the Queen”) the access environment takes on a theatre aspect, with a large stairway and benches carved into the rock around the deck that overlooks the main burial chamber. This sacred space was probably used not only in ceremonies but also for meetings which were held periodically between the exponents of the main aristocratic groups.
Also significant is the presence of an alabaster plaster in the “Tumulus of the Queen”. Alabaster is in fact a mineral found in abundance in Cyprus. This is a further element confirming the existence of a "red thread" that binds ideally Salamis and Tarquinia, in an unusual twinning of architectural culture and traditions.
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