BSR research at Tarquinia

In November the BSR hosted a workshop of UCL and the Soprintendenza Archeologia on geophysics projects in central Italy where a range of sites were presented. Building upon these discussions, in early February a team from the BSR undertook three days of magnetometry with the Università degli Studi di Milano at the site of the city of Tarqunia at the invitation of Professor Giovanna Bagnasco Gianni.


Tarquinia. Photo by Stephen Kay

The aim of the survey was to provide a comparative dataset for an early geophysical prospection conducted across the city in the 1980s by the Fondazione Lerici. The unpublished results appear to reveal in some detail elements of the city, much of which is buried. The new survey, conducted at a higher resolution revealed traces of a network of roads across the town as well as some hitherto unknown buildings south of the famous Ara della Regina (so-called as early antiquarians upon its discovery thought it was a pyramid due to the stepped sides of the Etruscans podium!). The BSR looks forward to continuing this new successful collaboration with Professor Bagnasco Gianni and her team (with special thanks to Matilde Marzullo and Andrea Garzulino for their support in the field).

The theme of the necropoli of the Etruscans, and in particular their painted tombs, is being explored by Morgan Gostwyck-Lewis, the BSR Scholars’ Prize in Architecture award-holder. Since joining us at the BSR in January, Morgan has visited several Etruscan sites, looking at the movement between ornamental order and figurative image through the painted interiors of Etruscan tombs. Our current Abbey Fellow in Painting Neil McNally has been looking at Etruscan artefacts, mirrors and ritual.


The site of the Etruscan tombs at Cerveteri. Photo by Morgan Lewis.

This weekend, Director Christopher Smith will be attending a conference in Tarquinia organised in memory of Giuseppe Cultrera, and presenting a new volume edited by Giovanna Bagnasco Gianni on Fascino etrusco nel primo Novecento, conversando di arti e di storia delle arti. More details about the event can be found at

Stephen Kay (Archaeology Officer)