Colle Val d'Elsa has a large number of findings and a variety of graves and necropolises, which make it one of the largest areas of archaeological interest in Tuscany, thereby making the Archaeological Museum which houses those finds one of the most important in the whole region.
The area of Colle Val d'Elsa, which was subject to the authority of Volterra, was an important crossroad to and from central and northern Etruria. There are two large necropolises that prove its importance: the Le Ville necropolis and the Dometaia necropolis.
In the necropolis situated north-west of the small collection of houses at Le Ville, the first productive excavations in the area were carried out in the 18th century, and continued in the following century (1872), leading to the discovery of numerous objects of various sorts, as well as the more recent exploration by the Gruppo Archeologico Colligiano (Colle Archeological Group) which, has uncovered fully 10 chamber tombs, all seriously damaged, and often filled in owing to the collapse of their roof. They had already largely been robbed.
The use of the necropolis continued until the end of the Hellenistic period. The necropolis was divided into two groups of tombs a few hundred metres apart: Archaic, oriented towards the Senna, a seasonal stream; Classical and Hellenistic necropolis, oriented towards the river Elsa.
Around 20 tombs have been cleaned and studied since 1974 at the Dometaia necropolis and, although they are spread out in a long line over the crest of the ridge, two larger groups can be discerned among them: one around 150 metres away before one gets to the houses at Dometaia, and the other in the borgo (hamlet), both along the road and underneath the houses themselves.
A full-scale Etruscan archaeological park will be created around this necropolis. Many of the tombs are still completely intact, thanks to the characteristics of the soil.
Another interesting detail is the presence of several examples of Etruscan writing, carved onto the platform, which are yet to be deciphered.
The Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli Archaeological Museum in Colle Val d'Elsa houses the splendid pieces which come from the tomb of the noble Calisna Sepu family, in the context of the Pierini Tomb (7th century BC). The Calisna Sepu tomb, considered to be the richest Hellenistic find made in northern Etruria, has large black-slip vases which are regarded as among the most representative of this kind of pottery, the only example of overpainted Volterran kelebe, some very fine bronze mirrors, and a large array of table ware as used by the Etruscan upper class.
For further information:
Museo Archeologico Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli
P.zza Duomo 42
53034 Colle di Val d' Elsa - Si
Tel.: +39 0577 922954
G.A.C. - Gruppo Archeologico Colligiano
Tel.: +39 0577 920490