The exibition

The exhibition is arranged on two floors displaying mostly grave goods found during excavations carried out in the 20th century in the main necropolises surrounding the plateau of the area, known as the ancient city of Caere. The objects follow a chronological order from the formation of the urban centre (10th - 9th centuries BC) to the Roman period.

Various grave goods of the large necropolis of Sorbo, located in the southern part of the city, are exposed in order to illustrate the most important ancient phases (Villanovian period). This necropolis, the core of which was first excavated by R. Mengarelli in 1910-1911, was used from the end of the Bronze Age (tomb 163) to the historical period. From the beginning of the Iron Age the peculiarity of all the Villanovian Tombs in Cerveteri is the coexistence of inhumation and cremation in funeral practice. In the beginning the most common ritual, especially for men, has to do with cremation and can be described as follows. The burnt remains of the deceased were mixed with the ornaments worn, even if they had been deformed by the fire, and with the utensils. The mixture was collected in some vessel, whose shape could vary, and the top of the vessel was closed with a symbolic helmet, which indicated the role of head of the family, or in a bowl of ceramic material or, rarely, of embossed bronze.   

The urn and the ceramic grave goods were buried in a pit in two levels, the top part wider than the bottom one (pozzetto a risega), and in the most important burials they were protected by a cylindrical tufa casing. In this necropolis, as in the monumental necropolis of Banditaccia, it became more and more common, until it was practically the only method of burial during the 8th century BC, to bury the whole body in a grave, usually trapezoidal in shape (often with narrow  flattened areas along the sides on which lay protective wooden boards). The bodies wore rich and complex bronze and gold ornaments, while tools and pottery were put both at the feet and around the head of the extended body. In the 7th century BC this kind of burial was replaced by chamber tombs surmounted by monumental mounds (tumuli) and the innumerable grave goods signalled the prestige and wealth of the owner.

The exhibition continues with the rich grave goods of the tumuli of the Orientalizing period (7th century BC) found in the necropolises of Monte Abbadone (also called Monte Abatone), Casaletti of Ceri and Laghetto, containing the first locally produced bucchero and painted ceramic vases but also Greek imports as well as the rich ornament sets for women. Especially noteworthy are some grave goods such as those from the tomb 4 in Monte Abbadone with cups from Rhodos, perfume vessels from Corinth, amulets of Egyptian style and jars (olle) decorated with griffin heads of Oriental style. On the vase from the tomb 297 of the same necropolis is painted one of the oldest narrative representations, perhaps inspired by a Greek myth ( Theseus and Ariadne or Menelaus and Helen).

Regarding the 6th century, the grave goods of the tomb 170 from the Bufolareccia necropolis  contains: wooden objects, among which are a folding stool and a small cask; a mould-made urn which reproduces on a reduced scale the famous sarcophagus of a married couple (sarcofago degli sposi); vases produced by Greek artists in this area such as the Caeretan hydrias, reproducing lively scenes from Greek mythologhy and vases imported from Greece.

Besides the grave goods from Banditaccia and Monte Abbadone from the 6th century to the 2nd century BC, material which became more and more standardized and of less value, there are important architectural decorations (an acroterion with a female figure, antefixes, revetment plaques), the votive offerings from the temple of Hera at Manganello (6th - 4th BC), as well as the finds discovered recently in the area of the town. From the funeral complex of Greppe Sant'Angelo comes the statue of Tuchulca, an Etruscan demon of the underworld, datable to the second half of the 4th century BC.

At the end of the exhibition there are some sarcophagi, two of them with representations of the deceased and a set of funerary male cippi (phallic shape) and female cippi (house shape). On the top floor is also exhibited the Odescalchi collection with objects of Etruscan, south Italian and Greek production from the 7th century BC until the Roman age.