Il Museo
I Sabini
Fara Sabina Archaeological Museum

The 36th Tomb of the necropolis of Colle del Forno

The 36th Tomb of the necropolis of “Colle del Forno”, since its discovery by geophysical exploration, has been considered an exceptional structure due primarly to its dimensions.

In a panorama dominated by tombs of relatively modest constructions, usually with a single small room with several loculi along the walls which were often re-used many times throughout several generations, this immense complex contained an enormous uncovered entrance hall, three rooms, and a long main corridor of more than 26 meters, representing an anomaly that was clearly already sought since its construction.

The excavation completely confirmed the particularitity of this colossal tomb, in that such a large structure was conceived in order to accommodate the spoils of only one human being.

In the farthest room, existed only one loculo where the ashes of the desceased were held, contained in a wooden box wrapped with a gold embroidered cloth; at its side, two  small bottles, already antique at the time of the death of the owner and evidently relics of a venerated ancestor.

The great room contained only the terracotta throne and the weaponry of the deceased; at the feet of the throne, a small votive vase remains as a testimony to the ceremonies carried out at the moment of burial.

The room on the left contained a war chariot; the horses that led it had been sacrificed in the entrance hall, their bodies having fallen over the five ceramic amphora that had been placed there.

Although the amphora were modest in appearance, in reality, the content must have been highly valued for three in particular, of distant Eastern Mediterranean origin.

In the room on the right, a row of large bronze containers held other alimentary offerings to the deceased. A second throne in terracotta, over the roof of the tomb marked its location for future generations.

The tomb had been reopened for a second deceased, a woman, placed on a wooden bed  along the right wall of the farthest room. This reopening provoked a collapse of the ceiling and one of the walls of the room which were summarily repaired. In the course of the reconstruction, some of the objects contained in the farthest room and the entrance hall were smashed and partially dispersed.

All of the aspects of the original placement of the tomb explicitly deviate from the traditional funereal ceremonies and burial practices of the Sabine aristocracy of the time. Such as, the individual tomb, the cremation, the presence of personal objects, and within them some obsolete items such as the chariot and a particular type of throne, reserved over generations only to divinity, heroes and super-human figures.

These, all being signs of unusual honors paid to the deceased as an acknowledgement of the important role played while still alive, without doubt a monarch who lived in an age, at the end of the 6th century B.C., when the fall of the sysytem of allies in whom Rome’s supremacy had relied on, left a void in the power structure, favoring the pursuit of new political and institutional orders, some of whom were influenced by emerging figures who often wielded their power under the cape of a recovery of ancestral traditions.

When  this king of Eretum died, noone could imagine that his success would have been this ephemeral, and his burial took on the tones of a ritual of heroic cult.

Enrico Benelli