aerial view of Coriglia


Over the last 13 years, excavations at this Etrusco-Roman settlement have uncovered evidence of habitation of the site from at least the 9th century BCE through the renaissance when the site was destroyed by mudslides.  Among its interesting features are sanctuary walls from the Etruscan period to the Roman.  The Etruscan wall, dated from ceramics and construction to the 6th century BCE, was surmounted by a series of inverted large pots (dolia) referred to as ziros. In this part of Etruria, these finds frequently indicate a space that is sacred to gods of the dead. 

Also on the site there are a number of Roman features: roads, bath complexes, and kilns.  Numerous Roman coins have been discovered here, especially along the roads.

Our current working model is that Coriglia began as an Etruscan water/healing shrine around which a small town developed and grew. After the Roman suppression of Orvieto (Velzna) with which Coriglia was associated, the finds indicate that it grew into a larger town with a bath complex/shrine along a branch of the Via Cassia during the late Republic, possibly dedicated to Bacchus. The complex remained in use until at least the 5th century CE.  The settlement persisted until at least 1000 CE with production activity lasting until the 15th century CE.



As for the underground pyramidal-shaped structure (hypogeum), we discovered it five summers ago but have not yet ascertained its function.  We know what it is not.  It is not a quarry; its walls are too well dressed.  It is not a well or cistern; its walls have no evidence of hydraulic treatments.

We have excavated to a depth of 18 meters finding in sequence a medieval floor over a mix of material from the prehistoric to the 5thcentury BCE, followed by a meter and half of relatively sterile gray sandy material poured in from some point above at the center of the cavity.  Below this, is a series of strata deposited from a flight of stairs cut into the tufa wall.  Material recovered from these deposits dates to around the middle to end of the 6th century.  There are large quantities of Etruscan and Greek pottery from the 5th century BCE.  Of great significance is the number of Etruscan language inscriptions that we have recovered – over a two hundred and growing.

Excavation continues with the goal of identifying the purpose of this structure and the reason for its ritual “killing.”

Crocifisso del tufo


This important and famous site dates from the 6th century BCE. June 2015 saw the beginning of our collaboration with the Parco Archeologico e Ambientale dell’Orvietano to open new excavations in this necropolis.  Each season has seen the discovery of a hitherto unknown and intact burial.  We look forward to further discoveries this season.  Most of the tombs are laid out so that there is the appearance of streets between the tombs.  Each clan had its own "house" for their dead.  One of the striking features of the "houses" are the Etruscan language inscriptions on them telling the passersby to which family the tombs belonged.  There are also older tombs that have two chambers where the dead were placed in the back chamber and the grave goods in the front.  We are recovering many human remains and artifacts that teach us much about the lives of the ancient Etruscans.

Prof. David George
Institute for Mediterranean Archaeology
Palazzo Negroni, Piazza Corsica, 2.
Orvieto (TR) 05018 Italia
phone: +39 333 9313426

Prof. Linda Rulman
Faculty / Director
Saint Anselm College Orvieto
Palazzo Negroni, Piazza Corsica, 2.
Orvieto (TR) 05018 Italia
phone: +39 333 9313426