- Etruscan funerary architecture and furniture used to dominate all perceptions of the Etruscans and there is a wealth of information about tombs. A distinctive feature of tombs is that they are generally placed on the approaches to cities and smaller communities, although visible points along roads are another prefered location. One major exception to this rule is the discovery of burials dating to about 800 BC among foundation deposits of the very city of Tarquinia itself, including possible human sacrifice. Early tombs from the Villanovan period contain many cremations, although the relative proportion to inhumation varies between 90 percent in Tarquinia and 30 percent at Veii, even if this is partly dependent on the later date of many of the tombs at Veii. The custom of cremation was generally retained longer in the northern parts of Etruria. Inhumation became the dominant custom in the southern cities (e.g., Caere and Tarquinia). The structures of early tombs are simple containers for cremation urns. The later tombs comprise more elaborate houses for the dead, filled with rich assemblages for feasting and placed within the distinctive tomb architecture of the individual city. These tombs were collected in groups that can be characterized as cities of the dead, most notably in the Banditaccia cemetery of Caere. At Tarquinia, women and younger individuals appear to be underrepresented in burials, suggesting a different burial practice in this part of the community and perhaps also a different status. More details of the distinctive features of tombs are given in conjunction with individual cities (e.g., Caere, Orvieto, Populonia, Tarquinia, Vulci).
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.