Gold Necklaces from the Regolini-Galassi Tomb

The Italian & International Chapter

In the Necropolis of Sorbo in Caere (today the town Cerveteri), Fr. Alessandro Regolini and General Vincenzo Galassi discovered in 1836 one of the richest and most representative Etruscan tombs dating from 675 to 650 B.C. The artifacts found in the tomb are now exhibited in Hall II of the Gregorian Etruscan Museum. The collection is one of the most complete testimonies to the “Orientalizing” phase in ancient history, a cultural phenomenon that involved Etruria and the entire Mediterranean basin in an extended circulation of goods and knowledge from the East thanks to the activity of the Phoenicians and Greeks. 

The partially excavated tomb is covered by an enormous earthen mound and is built with stone blocks that create a false vault. The tomb includes an access corridor, an anteroom with two cells and the principal funeral chamber, which was reserved for a woman with rich personal belongings made up of highly refined jewelry, silverware, and bronze vessels. 

This project primarily concerns the restoration of two necklaces composed of several gold cylinders (30 and 28) and three gold mesh chains, each of which terminates with a ring in the form of a half pinecone and decorated with granulated linear motifs. Granulation is a sophisticated ancient goldsmith technique, which has remained unparalleled in the work of contemporary artisans; it involves the application of microscopic gold spheres welded to the surface of the jewelry in order to create decorative motifs and figures.

The Vatican restorers will also take on the restoration of the enigmatic iron “dagger”, which at the time of the discovery was believed to be the weapon of an Etruscan nobleman buried in the tomb. In recent years, however, this object has been identified as a weapon of the seventeenth or eighteenth century, perhaps belonging to a curious “seeker of antiquity” of the Renaissance or of the Baroque period who failed to enter the Etruscan tomb.