Tarquinia is one of the foremost Etruscan cities, and its necropolis with the famous painted tombs is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (nominated 2004). The Università degli Studi di Milano is in charge of the excavations and researches on the Civita plateau, under the direction of M. Bonghi Jovino (since 1982) and currently of G. Bagnasco Gianni (since 2004), in agreement with the Superintendency of Southern Etruria and the local Authorities. This research has provided substantial and significant evidence for Etruscan material culture, and Etruscan behaviour. The results of our scientific research at the ‘monumental complex’, one of the most ancient Etruscan areas which was consistently used from the 10th to the 2nd century BCE, and at the Ara della Regina Sanctuary, the foremost Etruscan sanctuary, are currently published in the Tarchna series and in a number of scientific contributions.


According to the above mentioned agreements, the Università degli Studi di Milano, in cooperation with the Politecnico of Milan, has been carrying out a programme of investigations supported by modern ITC and GIS technology, including LiDAR (Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) and addressing a number of activities, including mapping, restoration, conservation and valorisation of the remains of the ancient city on the Civita plateau and of its surrounding territory. This work began in 2012.

Our aim is to include previous research on the Tarquinia heritage, carried out during the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century, in a number of areas of the Civita plateau (150 hectares), in the necropoleis (roughly 6000 tombs, of which 400 are painted), and fortifications.


Since the beginning of the Tarquinia project, thanks to a team-building strategy, we can rely on cooperation with experts in a number of disciplines other than Archaeology, in order to approach Etruscan Culture through different perspectives:

since 1982

  • Radar Prospections (CNR- ITAB, dr. Salvatore Piro);
  • Electrical Soundings (Lerici Foundation, dr. Mauro Cucarzi);
  • Palaeopathology (Università degli Studi di Pisa, prof. Francesco Mallegni);


Università degli Studi di Milano

  • Archaeometry (prof. Silvia Bruni);
  • ICT: Informatica (prof. Stefano Valtolina);

since 2007

Università degli Studi di Milano

  • Geoarchaeology (prof. Mauro Cremaschi);
  • Microbiology (dr. Francesca Cappitelli);

since 2009

Politecnico di Milano

  • Architecture and Topography (Documentation&Conservation) (prof. Susanna Bortolotto);

since 2010

  • Epigraphy (Florida State University, Department of Classics, prof. Nancy de Grummond);

since 2011

  • Zooarchaeology (Provincia di Bolzano, Ufficio Beni Archeologici, dr. Umberto Tecchiati);

since 2013

Università degli Studi di Milano

  • Environmental and social Psycology (Psicologia Ambientale e di Comunità, dr. Eleonora Riva).


The ground-breaking nature of our research is the assessment of a new cognitive framework to face interpretative problems and change our understanding and thinking about the reconstruction of the features of ancient communities, respecting difference and complexity and without imposing contemporary theoretical models. Distinct small- medium- and large-scale investigation methods are constantly integrated by means of a dedicated ICT platform (ArchMatrix). ArchMatrix is based on information-integration services implemented to outline reliable relationships among multifaceted datasets (objects, monuments, and their territorial context). We deal with the scientific, technical, and scholarly aspects of the interpretation of ancient and lost cultures to reconstruct as far as possible the relationships between object and context, and meaningful recurrences of specific archaeological indicators of social behaviour in order to identify underlying mental attitudes.  This focuses attention on connections embedded in the material aspects of the remains of ancient communities and on the behavioural actions, which that same material evidence references, together with textual and iconographic repertoires.


The potential impact of our contribution is to offer a new approach to the cultural resources of ancient sites addressed both to the community of researchers and to the general public, according to the UNESCO requirements.