Burials and Birthdays

I had the great fortune this past Tuesday to visit Etruscan burial sites with the rest of the students from my program. At our first site, we admired the intricate paintings lining the walls of quite a number of Etruscan tombs. These paintings, which also existed on the slanted tomb ceilings, depicted scenes from Etruscan life, doorways to the afterlife, lavish banquets, various animals, intricate designs, and religious entities.

After exploring that site, we visited a museum full of, among other things, Etruscan sarcophagi. Many of these beautiful works of art possessed inscriptions and statues of the reclining occupants atop the sarcophagi.

After a quick lunch, we visited another burial site, at which Etruscans had built enormous domes atop large tombs that they had carved out of solid rock. Atop these domes were dirt and vegetation that had been allowed to grow. These tombs looked from the outside more like incredibly geometric hills than actual works of architecture. Inside these tombs were beds and other symbolic household items carved into the rock for the use of the deceased occupants.

Yesterday was my birthday and it was fantastic. In the evening, I celebrated my birthday with about a dozen other students by going to the Colosseum. As a special event for last night (and also for the next couple of nights), the Colosseum was set on fire by projecting video of pre-recorded fire into each of the Colosseum’s arches. The effect was the appearance of a massive fire within the interior of one of the world’s most spectacular buildings, which could be seen from quite a distance. The spectacle was an incredible way to celebrate a birthday.

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