Room 7. Acquarossa. Daily life and women


It is difficult to reconstruct an Etruscan house from the fragmentary traces found at the excavations. After being abandoned, the site was damaged by various agents, such as erosion from heavy rains and modern deep ploughing. The first step towards an interpretation of the finds is the documentation of all available information via plans, sections, photographs and other records of the excavation.
The foundations of the houses were often at least partly cut into the bedrock, but tufa blocks were also used. These were either cut at the site itself or brought in from a nearby quarry. Tufa is a very brittle stone, thus contributing to the difficulties in making a reliable reconstruction. Usually only the smashed tiles from the collapsed roofs and perhaps some remains of the walls, made either in stone or in wattle and daub, are preserved above the foundations. In order to reconstruct the plan of a house, the first stage is to establish the area delimited by its foundations.
Over 70 buildings have been identified at Acquarossa, but much fewer have been fully excavated. There does not seem to have been much deliberate planning of the settlement, except for a certain degree of regularity in the layout of Zones F and C. The remains of the major road between these two zones, however, seem to be older and belong to an earlier, less regular phase.
The sizes of the houses vary according to their location (central or on the outskirts) and according to the suitability of the ground. However, there is no great dissimilarity among the plans. The “normal” plan shows two interconnecting rooms, often of different sizes, with the entrance on one of the long sides of the building. When extra space was required, another room or two were added.
The buildings are often placed two or three together surrounding a courtyard and they probably functioned together as a unit. Channels and cisterns were cut in the tufa rock to drain the areas around the buildings and to collect and probably store rainwater. There were also a few rectangular ovens made of fired clay and two niches made for cooking in the tufa wall of the courtyard.


The Etruscan home in the Archaic period consisted of several different buildings around an open courtyard, the house to live in, stores for food, tool sheds and shelters for animals.
The plan of Zone L shows three buildings and two courtyards. The houses are partly cut directly out of the bedrock and partly built with blocks. To the very south, there is one shed-like structure, probably intended for animals. Close by is a recess for cooking that was also carved out of the bedrock. In the courtyard, next to the southernmost building, a row of loom- weights was found, indicating the place where a vertical loom had been located, but there are no remains of the loom itself. Inside the building were found some large dolia, used for the storage of food.
The reconstruction exhibited shows part of the courtyard, containing the loom, the cooking area and a formal dining room. Across from the dining room is shown a storage area with terracotta utensils and pots. The courtyard itself was central to the daily life of the household and most of the work such as spinning, weaving and preparation of food probably took place out of doors and was performed by women. Thread was made with distaff and spindle, as testified by many finds of spindle whorls, and then wound onto reels.
Most of the food was probably cooked for a long time, in terracotta pots placed on cooking stands, i.e., roughly horseshoe-shaped terracotta stands with three supports turned inwards.
At Acquarossa, a second type of cooking stand was also found, shaped like a barrel open at the top and the bottom and with a small arched opening. This stand could also be used as an oven, i.e., it was first heated inside and the food then introduced into it. There were also roughly rectangular ovens built of clay directly on the ground. Normally, there was neither a kitchen nor a permanent hearth in the house, probably because of the risk of fire. Instead, a small recess in the tufa wall served as protection for the fire against rain and wind.

Pottery Cooking area


In early times, the Etruscans dined seated. The banquet with the participants reclining was probably introduced in the early 6th century BC. We know what this looked like from one of the relief plaques and from the fact that one room in the monumental area, Zone F, seems to have been specially furnished for banquets, with the supports for klinai (the beds/sofas for reclining) along three sides. The banquet was a way of indicating status and a permanent banquet hall was probably a fairly rare feature, found only in public buildings and in the houses of the wealthy and important.
Each kline accommodated more banqueters than one. There were different models and the one recreated here is taken from the terracotta plaques type C from Zone F. It has turned legs and one end raised. Each kline had a low three-legged table with a triangular top. A mattress and various pillows were placed on top of the kline for the banqueters' comfort. The tableware was made of metal, if that was within the means of the host, or of bucchero, the black metal-imitating pottery.

The banquet room

The other rooms

Room 1. Acquarossa and San Giovenale. Introduction

Room 2. San Giovenale

Room 3 and room 4. Acquarossa. Houses and roofs

Room 5. Acquarossa. The monumental area

Room 6. Acquarossa. Roof-tiles: variants. Objects

Selected bibliography

See the film