Making Sense of Landscape: A New Study of Sound Propagation between Tarquinian Funerary and Habitation Settings

Jacqueline Ortoleva

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The study of pre-Roman landscape settings has progressed across a long trajectory in its consideration of urban and rural adaptations in Etruria. Such studies, while providing valuable details regarding social organization, have not considered the unique aural nature of the landscape, particularly with respect to funerary settings. Nowhere is this more evident than with painted chambered tombs. Our understanding of Etruscan painted tombs is still largely guided by analytic studies of tomb paintings, epigraphic sources, and typologies. Thus, the bilateral relationship between each tomb’s landscape setting and habitation contexts has been explored from a solely visual perspective, rather than from a multisensory perspective, and consequently, ritual performed in and around the tomb space remains unclear. A further understanding of perceptual constructs involving aural information offers a new way forward in confronting these realities. This article utilizes acoustic modeling tools to illustrate the potential range of audibility between the Necropoli dei Monterozzi in Tarquinia and various locations in the landscape. Acoustic and spatial data collected in 2019 inside a series of painted tombs in the Calvario area of the Necropoli dei Monterozzi in Tarquinia provides further information regarding the painted tomb’s landscape setting and its environs. The preliminary study suggests that aural information can greatly enhance our understanding of funerary practices in Tarquinia, particularly with respect to how habitation areas in Tarquinia may have engaged with funerary landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEtruscan and Italic Studies
Early online date22 Aug 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Aug 2022


  • auditory
  • sensory archeology
  • tomb painting
  • Tarquinia
  • acoustic modeling
  • funerary architecture


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