The Ancient Etruscan Civita of TarquiniaThe remains of the ancient Etruscan temple of Altar of the Queen: the archaeological site where the Winged Horses of Tarquinia were found
Going along the road that leads to Monte Romano, after approximately seven kilometers, a deviation on the left leads to the ancient Etruscan acropoli, known today as Plain of Civita. Here was the site of ancient Tarquinia, known as Tarchna, one of the most powerful Etruscan cities, to which belonged the famous Necropolis of Monterozzi.
On the highest point of the plain, there are the remains of the temple of Altar of the Queen, one of the most important archeological finds of the whole Tarquinia. The temple was used to celebrate rituals and prayers and it is said that the divinity to whom the cult was devoted was Diana.
Thanks to restoration works and excavations carried out since 1938, it is today possible to appreciate base of what is thought had been the access to the temple's inside cell, built with blocks of nenfro, a variety of grey tuff typical from this region.
THE WINGED HORSES OF TARQUINIA: HISTORY OF THE RECOVERY
Among the remains of this great temple, built in the first half of the fourth century BC, was found one of the most important Etruscan artworks: a slab representing the Winged Horses.
This huge slab (1.15 meters high and 1.25 meters wide), together with another slab representing a chariot, which has unfortunately been lost, used to decorate the pediment of the temple.
Dating back to somewhere between the end of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth century BC, the slab was found fragmented into a hundred pieces by archeologist Pietro Romanelli. The first restoration work, by Augusto Falessi, allowed the first exhibition only six months after the finding, in 1928.
In the late 1960's, in the new setting of the Archeological Museum, curated by architect Franco Minissi, a room was devoted to the great work, where its uniqueness and fascination could stand out. It remained there until 2001, when, in the occasion of the exhibition Etruscan Tarquinia: a new history, the extraordinary high-relief was temporarily moved to Salone delle Armi (Room of the Arms).
In the meanwhile, it underwent further restoration works by Ingrid Rein, who managed to bring to light also the colours of the slab, the horse in the foreground being ochre and the one in the background reddish.
In 2014 it was decided to move the slab of the Winged Horses back into the room of the Museum that was originally meant for it, where it will finally be possible to admire it in all its splendour.
The opening of the new room will take place next Saturday 4 July 2015 at 9 am at the National Etruscan Museum of Tarquinia, with a big reception that will be attended by the Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini, by major of Tarquinia Giuseppe Fioroni and by the president of the Province of Viterbo Mauro Mazzola. Don't miss it!
It is possible to admire the extraordinary result of restoration works of the two Winged Horses in the National Etruscan Museum of Tarquinia
Ancient Civita and Altar of the Queen
- HOW TO GET THERE
- By carDrive along the Via Aurelia bis towards Monte Romano. After approximately 7km from Tarquinia you will find a deviation on your left with directions to the Civita. Take as a reference the remains of the Roman aqueduct on your left before turning. After about 2 km, you will find an open space with illustrative signs of the area and directions to get to the Altar of the Queen.
Admission is free but the site is fenced off and visible from the outside. For a guided visit you can contact the National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia to the number +39 0766856036.