Etruscan footprints in the heart of Volterra
The acropolis reveals the most ancient story of Volterra and surrounding areas, continuously inhabited for millennia
The excavation works in the Acropolis have brought back to light an area dedicated to religious activities: starting from the 6th century BC in this area religious buildings and other structures linked to them, such as houses and warehouses, were built.
The most substantial period of building was that of the Ellenistic period (3rd and 2nd century BC), to which two religious buildings date, they are called temple Alpha and Beta, and other buildings amongst which a cistern to collect rain water.
On the western side of the area is a building, from the 2nd century BC, inside which has been found a richly coloured fresco: green, red, black, white, yellow and burgundy set in geometric patterns decorating a room of the building. Part of this exceptional find, unparalleled in the Etruscan area, is to be found in the Guarnacci Museum.
A village with a natural defense
overlooking the surrounding area as far as the sea
Temple ALPHA, from the second half of the 2nd century BC, is more recent than Temple B, and its shape is comparable to that of Greek temples. It included a closed cell surrounded by columns on three sides and a front accessible by a flight of steps. The platform covering has survived, grey sandstone decorated with carvings, as have some elements of the architectural decoration. A passage inside the platform gave access to the 8 metre deep cistern, which held the necessary water for the religious ceremonies.
Temple BETA from the second half of the 3rd century BC is on the northern side of the area. Unfortunately most of its structure is lost due to a quarry underneath. Surrounded by a wall that used to separate as in Temple A- the sacred area from the rest, it was a building in Tuscan style, of pure Etruscan tradition. It was made up of two parts of the same size: a closed cell in the rear, completed in the front by three rows of four columns each. The temple was on a platform, reachable via a flight of steps. The building materials were perishable: wood and clay, while the roofing was of handmade and moulded terracotta tiles, now partly housed in the Guarnacci Museum.
The sanctuary area was built in a way so as to gather rain water. The lack of natural water springs on top of the hill forced the builders to create a perfect system to gather the water needed in the area.
The rain water was canalized from the roofs and the courtyard in front of the temples towards big stone cisterns, to be used during religious ceremonies and as a provision in the event of drought.