Further Afield. The Certosa And Casalecchio.
We have now seen, in the rich collections of Bologna city, the art and industry of the Etruscan man, and we shall find interest in an excursion to the sites which yielded them: a long day may profitably be spent in visiting the actual diggings. We will, therefore, set out along the western line of the VIA AEMILIA, passing the Pradello, and issuing from the Santa Isaia or western gate.
The grand discovery of the Certosa (August 23, 1869) stimulated public curiosity, and Cav. Zannoni happily suggested (fu millanteria, fu intuizione, fu intimo presentimento?) that detached groups of sepulchres would be found on alternate sides of the old highway extending to the city walls. The Scavi Benacci were begun in 1873, and early in 1875 I saw nine tombs and places of cremation which had been added to the 300 already laid open. As the ground is
under cultivation, the exhausted trenches, after the contents had been carefully sketched and measured by the Capo Ingegnere Municipale had been filled up, per non dannificare il podere. The half dozen labourers received at the dead season 1∙25 lire PER DIEM; and at other times 1∙50 to 2 lire. Four distinct strata can be detected here and elsewhere, the section showing well marked lines: 1st, and highest, (Roman?) mostly buried. 2ndly, buried and burnt (Etruscan?). 3rd, mostly burnt (Umbrian? Italic?). 4th, and lowest, (protohistoric?) all burnt. The base of the ROGVS measured each way 1∙10 metre (= 3 feet 7∙31 inches); the north of the square was a roll of pottery, crushed by the weight of superincumbent earth; in the centre lay a pot cover, and to the east were the remnants of the ossuary. A few yards further west were the Scavi (of Cav. Francesco) De‑Lucca; two skeletons, with skulls to the setting Sun, had been disposed in the BVSTVM, some three metres under the modern level; and at the lowest horizon was the VSTRINVM. The find which I witnessed was unusually rich; pottery with graffiti, a little iron, a quantity of broken and rotten bronze, and a knife blade, straight edged on one side, and on the other finely toothed. It was
probably a saw for cutting bones into objects of use and ornament.
Hereabouts are the (Fondo Astorre) Arnoaldi Diggings, whence, about twenty years ago, an intact skeleton, with a figured vase, placed as usual on the left, was accidentally unearthed. Some forty six places of sepulture and cremation were at once discovered in 1871‑1872, and, in 1873, silver gilt FIBVLAE were brought to light. On December 4, 1873, two bronze cysts, with raised rings, [footnote 1: they have also lately been found in the tumulus of Monceau‑Laurent, Commune de Magny‑Lambert (Burgundy), and at Hallstadt (Rev. Arch., 1873: plates XII, number 1, and XIII, number 8)] were added to the two bronze SITVLAE, and other vases also with cordoni a sbalzo; to two ARMILLAE, various FIBVLAE, the usual quantity of AES RVDE, and large and elegant potteries, covered, like those of Villanova, with graffiti. Four tombs were also exposed in the Predio Tagliavini, near San Polo, and a trench, measuring nearly fifty square metres, run from the Arnoaldi towards the Tagliavini diggings, was even more fortunate.
We now resume the highroad to Florence, a fine macadam, nescient of the pike: to the right or north lies the railway, and beyond it, as far as the eye can see, stretches a plain flat enough to cause short sight in its inhabitants. The frequent villages
and steepled churches which rise above the vinebearing elm and the poplars hedging the wheatfields, give this valley a thriving and a pleasing aspect. To the left are the rib ends of the Peninsula's dorsal spine, gently swelling hills, either clothed in oak scrub or patched with clayey white, denoting cultivation, and mostly crowned with villas and temples. After some 1,200 metres from the city gate we enter the huge Certosa, whose lofty Campanile has long been our guide. Dating from AD 1335, it measures some two kilometres in circumference. Fortunately it was reformed by Napoleon I., or its mines of antiquarian wealth would still lie buried. Now it contains only two seculars, a guardian for the church, and a custodian for the churchyards. The latter acts as demonstrator; he is the nephew of a M. Sibaud, a Frenchman, who made the first find, but who did not know how to utilise his discoveries. In 1835, when the pronaos of the Pantheon, which is still building, was begun, bronzes and potteries were thrown up; and M. Marcellino, son of the old demonstrator, presented in 1840 a bronze statuette to Doctor Venturoli, Conservator of the Archiginnasio (Old University) Museum at Bologna. When curiosity was thoroughly aroused (1870) the
relics were found by the present curator, Cav. Luigi Frati, stowed away in two boxes. They consisted of bronze FIBVLAE, fragments of SIMPVLA (ladles), a CANDELABRVM very like the modern Italian, and similar articles. The pottery was comprised in a painted tazza and pieces of a great CELEBE for mixing wine and water, similarly adorned; an AMPHORA, a CRATER (mixing jar), and minor matters. After 1835 many small finds rewarded the workmen.
At length, on August 23, 1869, when a tomb was being dug somewhat deeper than usual, in the cloister (number 3) called Delle Madonne in Certosa, the fossini, reaching three metres, came upon a bronze cyst, of the form before figured, containing burnt bones and a large silver FIBVLA: both the band box and its alabaster balsamary were broken. Cav. Zannoni at once repaired to the spot, and determined, with remarkable perspicacity, that the Campo degli Spedali, the burial place of pauper hospital patients, must contain an Etruscan cemetery: it presently proved to be the greatest necropolis found about FELSINA. The Sindaco and Giunta allowed him to expend 50 lire, and thus began, under his superintendence, the Scavi della Certosa, now so
famed throughout Europe, which show, perhaps, the most splendid age of the life of FELSINA.
As the plan proves, we have five great groups. The largest (number 1) lies in the northern part of the Campo degli Spedali, or eastern cloister; number 2 is
Plan Of The Certosa.
1, 2, 3, 4, Groups Of Sepulchres In The Campo Santo. 5, The Church.
south of it; numbers 3 and 5 are all around and even inside the church; and number 4 is in the Campetto delle Gallerie. The discoverer presently suggested that this necropolis, or rather this fivefold cemetery,
belonged only to the western REGIO of FELSINA, and formed items of, perhaps, ten groups scattered between the city and its furthest western point. [Footnote 1: Sulle Ciste in Bronzo a Cordoni ec. Bologna: October 15, 1873.] He also suspected that the broad road, dividing the four greater groups into two, was a suburban branchline of, or was perhaps, the primitive highway, which ran a little south of its successor, the VIA AEMILIA. He remarked also that the tombs and pyres of the wealthy were the deepest; and, surrounded by open spaces, that they immediately fronted the road, whilst the poor lay behind ‑‑ we may see the same in England. How much the ground has changed is proved by the diggings, which show two distinct floodings and deposits of the Reno River.
We have seen the Certosa collections in the Museo Civico, and we have remarked how admirably they demonstrate the home life, the warfare, the religion, the commerce, the luxury of northern Etruria in the days of her highest development.
The sepulchres illustrate the two epochs called further north bruna‑öld (cremation), and hauga‑öld (inhumation, or rather tumulation [footnote 2: haugr, a cairn, is a Scandinavian word, which we have seen preserved in the Hougue of Guernsey]), the proportions
being respectively about 1 : 2. The depth of the ROGVS and VRNA varies from 0∙26 metre (= 10∙24 inches) to 5∙83 metres (= 19 feet 1∙53 inches); of the tomb between 1∙21 metre (= 3 feet 11∙64 inches), and 6∙13 metres (= 20 feet 1∙34 inches): in both cases computed from the ancient horizon, which is 1∙37 metre (= 4 feet 6 inches) below the modern.
Cav. Zannoni (page 23) offers the following plan: --
For the interment of the whole body were found (page 10) the four following arrangements, with their proportions out of a total of 250: --
1. 83 rectangular unlined fosses of various size, with the skeleton and the various articles almost always deposited on the ground to the left.
2. 122 same kind of fosse, with rounded pebbles
thrown confusedly over the skeleton. [Footnote 1: Here, again, we have the precaution of not allowing the corpse to touch the earth. The Moslems, on the contrary, do not permit the earth to touch the corpse; the idea being that it would cause pain to the still sentient clay. I wonder much that when all the press in England, during the winter of 1874‑1875, was discussing an improved form of sepulture, suggested by Mr. J. Seymour Haden, no one pointed out how the system had extended through the Moslem east since the days of Mohammed, and probably for an indefinite period before him.] This total, however, includes number 4.
3. 45 fosses with long wooden coffin (Pliny, XIII, 27), of which only fragments and nails remain. The ARCA was sometimes covered with earth.
4. The small fosse, with walls lined by unmortared pebbles. Here nothing is said about the kistvaen; and Cav. Zannoni seems to allude to one only (page 14).
Cremated remains were disposed in three ways (page 10). Out of 115: --
I. 72 in bronze cysts and SITVLAE; in fictile pots (plain, 36; ornamented, 20 or 1∙80 to 100 of the figured, and one in a marble vase.
II. 41 were in fosses, or 0∙56 to 100 of the former.
III. The two wells had each one.
There is little at present to view in the Chartreuse, except the local lion, its modern cemetery.
The entrance hall contains the monuments which precede the seventeenth century; and one of them, a sarcophagus on four dwarf pillars, resembles Petrarch's tomb at Arquà. The necropolis is thoroughly Italian, and one of the most remarkable of its kind. Series of arcades, developing their long galleries around the cloisters, embrace the little old Certosa church which formed the nucleus of the big new establishment. The bodies of the wealthy are deposited under the pavement, or in the thickness of the walls; whilst the poor lie in the open central grounds. The walls of the Campo Santo are adorned with busts, reliefs, and statues, some of which pretend to considerable art and value ‑‑ its general effect is somewhat that of a museum or a sculpture gallery. The only remnants of the old tenants are a heap of water‑worn oviform stones in the western cloister, and two similar mounds in the eastern, still showing the locality of the find. Even in the church, skeletons were disinterred, as may be seen from the fractures of the marble pavement fronting the altar; and a wall tablet records the visit of the fifth Archaeological Congress.
At the Certosa the useless arcade ‑‑ I speak as a Briton ‑‑ crosses the Florence highway, and runs up
to the hill church of Santa Luca, a favourite place of pilgrimage, with a glorious view. Like that of Vicenza, this gallery once bore frescoes showing the STEMMATA of noble families who built the several arches, but during French occupation it was degraded by whitewash. Our Gallic neighbours have not left pleasant memories in this part of the world; they seem to have taken example from their forefathers, the Boii, with the trifling difference of carrying off instead of destroying. A mile and a half from the Certosa places us at the villa of Count Denis Talon, whose grounds command a prospect ready made for its painter. Deep below the clay bank ‑‑ here sleeping in stagnant pools, where during frosts boys slide; there trotting in a thready streamlet, whose bed is a broad, white Arabian wady, in summer mostly bonedry ‑‑ lies the Reno River, no TACITVRNVS AMNIS; at times the turbulent mountain torrent, the general drain of many a burrone or gully, springs from its couch, in a mighty brown flood, and violently invades the fields on either side. [Footnote 1: For its classical claims consult the volume Dell' Antico Ponte Romano sul Reno lungo l' Emilia, e della precisa postura dell' Isola del Congresso Triumvirale. Memoria del Dott. Luigi Frati (Anno VI. Atti e Memorie). Bologna, 1868.] A solid dam of masonry crosses the fiumara [Jeff Hill's footnote: fiumara PRO Fiumara] bed, and from the left bank sets
off the leat which supplies the city. Fertile ledges, the site of the ancient river valley, limited north as well as south by moundlike and conical hill ranges, denoting the old bank, mark where it debouches upon the plain. And afar, stretching from west to southwest, are the steel‑blue peaks, bluffs, and blocks which, snowcapped in winter, part us from Tuscan Pistoja.
Madame de Talon takes an intelligent interest in the excavations upon her property beyond the Reno. We cross the stream by a solid bridge of stonework, not too solid for its task, as the five arches, of which three are full sized, are sometimes choked by the floods. Here is the modern Casalecchio, a common term in this part of Italy, meaning a group of houses ‑‑ Casalecchio di Rimini has lately distinguished itself by discovering a foundry of the later bronze age. The sixty tenements are covered by a tête de pont, and this forms a part of the earthwork line of vallation which defends Bologna on all but the southern or hill side. At the Osteria del Calza, famed for revelry on Sundays and Saint Mondays, we turn to the right, and ascend to the plane of the Diluvial epoch, when the Glacial disappeared in cataracts and cataclysms that swept everything before
them. The bank shows a section of the ground; humus based on a stratum of ghiaia, and these water‑rolled pebbles overlie miocenic marl, resting upon impermeable clay ‑‑ we shall need this observation at Marzabotto. Vines and wheat flourish, but the trees are stunted. The find was made when digging a trench to replant the elms. Ancient Casalecchio stood at the very edge of the raised riverbank, limiting the stream to the north, with a dainty view, as if it had been chosen by Carthusians. The little cemetery lay behind it. In Roman cities we usually look for graveyards to the south; in the Greek colonies of Italy and Sicily to the north (De Jorio, page 52); the only rule of Etruria is to seek the main lines of road. Three skeletons facing eastwards had been exhumed, and one was transported to Villa Talon, much to the horror of certain inmates. It was declared to be Roman by the fact of its lying upon broad TEGVLAE, or pan tiles, under a sloping cover formed by two rows of the same pottery. This is probably the local variety for the earthenware coffins (FICTILIA SOLIA) of Pliny (XXXV, 46). The remains IN SITV were puddings of broken and crushed wine jars; the ciottoloni (water‑rolled pebbles) used as flooring for house and tomb; and a bit of
intonaco (plaster or daub), an adobelike mass, burnt red, but still showing marks of calcined stalks and the tracery of leaves. The other articles were a few coins comparatively modern; the sheath of a FIBVLA, with fine PATINA; a number of solid AMPHORAE, and a fragment of pottery with bits of carbonised clay set, by way of ornament, in the lighter coloured material. The owner will dig in a straight line between the skeletons, and if the labourers come upon the ancient highway a rich trouvaille may be expected. A little further downstream lies the property of Marchese Boccadelli, who is also preparing to make fouilles, especially upon the northern range of hillocks, the bank of a Reno much larger than it is now.
Etruscan Bologna, A Study