Resume of a Letter addressed to Signor
W. Helbig, by Cav. A. Zannoni, upon the bronze articles supposed to be razors
(printed by the Bullettino
dell' Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica, anno 1875. Roma: coi tipi del
Salviucci, a Spese dell' Instituto), 1875.
ask me in yours of the 19th instant two questions:
1. Have the supposed razors been forted in
the Felsina Necropolis?
2. If so, what objects accompanied them, or,
to be more precise, did these implements occur together with pottery and
bronzes of the primitive type, as, for example, those of Villanova, or were they
discovered with painted pottery and historical subjects in black and red?
answering you, allow me to submit an outline of my discoveries in the Certosa
first found the four groups, numbering more than 400 sepulchres; the great
series of figured pottery, black and red; the unique bronze SITVLA;
the many‑figured STELAE, and the first specimen of
Etruscan writing. The Certosa is, therefore, one great period in the life of FELSINA, prince of Etruria.
as was pointed out in my report of October 2, 1871, at the opening of the Museo
Civico, the Certosa finds no longer form the isolated
discovery from which I had deduced that, between our old monastery and
a highway, with tombs grouped to the
right and to the left, showing several and successive epochs ‑‑
in fact, the development of Felsinean life. It appeared to me certain that
the earlier inhabitants would have pushed forward their cemeteries from the
limits of population, which, as my discoveries in the Strada Pratello prove,
represents a part of the modern city; and this, too, not only westward, but
to the other cardinal points. Evidently the citizens, increasing in numbers
and subject to social and political changes, would deposit their dead in several
and distinct groups along the road, at increased distances of a hundred yards
or so; sometimes above, at other times around, those which preceded them. And
therefore I expected to find at least ten roadside groups between the two
extreme points, Bologna and the Certosa.
fact of eight such groups coming to light have proved my conjecture to be
correct. Besides the four in the Certosa proper, 1869, I discovered to the
eastward ‑‑ that is, in the direction of FELSINA ‑‑ two more, below the Arnoaldi property (end
of September 1971); a seventh, distributed under the Arnoaldi‑Tagliavini
farms and the Certosa lane; and, finally, an eighth (mid August 1872), in the
Tagliavini find demanded fresh researches in the contiguous Arnoaldi property,
which presently yielded another group. The first, of thirty six sepulchres,
produced very few figured vases, with red pottery, FIBVLAE of bronze and
silver, and the remains of two cists. There were some sculptured STELAE,
far inferior in splendour to those of the Certosa, but two had an especial
value, on account of their Etruscan inscriptions. This group, therefore, has
the characteristics, without, however, the importance, of the four which
compose the Certosa find.
sixth group (Tagliavini property) produced, as
firstfruits, four sepulchres, containing
three skeletons, with brown and red earthenware, and a DOLIVM worked in bands:
its contents were burnt bones, silver FIBVLAE, and a bronze knife. But
it was a spark that kindled a mighty flame. The adjacent Arnoaldi diggings,
begun in early December 1872, were continued till the end of June 1874, and
have already yielded 150 tombs. Here we gathered, besides the brown and ruddy
earthenware, a rich harvest of pottery with graffiti geometrically
worked in a large and grandiose manner, and not wanting the usual ducks, the
doves, and even the monkey; a great variety of bronzes, such as FIBVLAE,
and utensils, SITVLAE, cups, two cists in repoussť work with
bands and points, and, finally, a sculptured STELA with rosetted
crosses, resembling that of Pisaro, consequently, those of the Certosa.
last summer (1874), the lane which separates the Arnoaldi and Tagliavini diggings,
explored by me at the expense of the municipality, produced eighty most
important tombs; and the axis of the line apparently corresponds with that of
the cemetery, which extends on both sides under the two farms. Here, more
remarkably than in Number 2, Arnoaldi group, emerged the luminous epoch of Villanova,
far richer sepulchres, proved by the engraved potteries and bronze utensils;
two banded cists, two others of repoussť work with bands and
points, and two with representations of quadrupeds like the far famed SITVLA
of the Certosa, not to speak of the number and beauty of the SITVLAE,
the large bronze pins, the bronze vases, and the utensils whose forms show
other Arnoaldi group (our Number 7) has yielded hitherto sixteen sepulchres,
identical with those of the Certosa; a large OXYBAPHON, a few other
red figured potteries, also in the style of what we found at the
monastery; a STELA and the fragment
of a second with a bit of inscription.
the history of FELSINA returns to its origin in the
vast Benacci group, discovered in September 1873. Here 300 tombs show four
epochs distinctly marked by their stratification, namely: ‑‑ 1. An age preceding Villanova (Pelasgian?);
2. The first era of Villanova
(Umbrian?); 3. Gallic; and 4. Roman.
pre Villanovan epoch appears splendidly in the five sepulchres, which I will
presently describe; in earthenware with peculiar graffiti, and in
special bronzes for utensils, arms, and ornaments.
now comes the first Villanovan age, with some engraved potteries and others
whose type has not hitherto appeared; with an extraordinary quantity and
variety of FIBVLAE, ARMILLAE, and bronze pins; with
bronze vases, amongst which six are banded, some are worked with repoussť
points, and one cist, festooned in repoussť, bears little geese like
those stamped on the earthenware. The so called TINTINNABVLA yielded by
Villanova here appeared in greater numbers; they are evidently not bells, but
articles of toilette.
Gallic epoch has offered various very long swordblades, like those from the TVMVLI
of Magny‑Lambert; and bronze vases resembling the discoveries of Upper
Alsace (Aus'm Werth der Grabfund von Wald‑Algesheim; Bonn, 1870).
For our present purpose I need not note the Roman age.
then, are the successive peoples and life periods of FELSINA ‑‑ Pelasgic, Umbrian, Etruscan, Gallic, and,
finally, Roman. The lower Benacci group shows the pre Villanovan (Pelasgic?)
and the early Villanovan age. The Arnoaldi‑Tagliavini and the Certosa
lane record the luminous epoch of the later Villanova; the second stratum
proves the influence of the coming age, gradually
deteriorating in the first Arnoaldi
group. In the third it again rises, and it culminates in the four Certosa
this sketch of my discoveries, I proceed to your questions concerning the so
called razors; and let me at once state that the obtuseness of the
edge, and the small size of the articles, forbid our attributing such use to
1: Note By The Translator ‑‑ After seeing the Chinese blades,
little hatchets, I cannot attach importance to either of these objections.]
lunated articles were found only in one part of the Certosa, the Campo degli
Spedali, scattered over the subsurface; none appeared in seven of the groups:
the four Certosan (proper), the two Arnoaldi; and the Arnoaldi‑Tagliavini
and Certosa lane. The Benacci diggings, however, yielded razors in nine tombs,
of which five belonged to the pre Villanovan (Pelasgic?), and four to the
early Villanovan epochs. The following is a succinct description of the
articles and their accompaniments.
the four early Villanovan tombs which yielded razors, Number 1 was a square fosse (0∙70
metre x 0∙70 metre), containing the large cinerary urn of Villanovan
type, with burnt bones, covered with its cup; to the northwards were some
small brown and red pots, one of them engraved round the rim with a zigzag
ornament, and with horizontal channellings from midbelly to bottom. A three‑barbed
of bronze and the razor were found with the bones.
Number 2 fosse was somewhat larger (1∙00
metre x 1∙00 metre); to the east stood the great ossuary (same type),
with engraved FIBVLAE, pins, and fragments of ARMILLAE, all of
bronze; westward lay some smaller brown pots; and a terracotta cist with
bands still stood upright. The razor lay flat in the middle of
the western side. It is not plain, each face has three zones cut parallel
with the blade‑back;
the uppermost is straight, the central is
a zigzag, and the lowest is in short and parallel perpendicular lines.
Number 3 fosse was of the same size as
the second. The ossuary (same type) was subtended northwards and southwards
by brown and reddish pots; there were only traces of bronze FIBVLAE,
and amongst the burnt bones lay the razor engraved with parallel lines
along the back.
Number 4 was a little smaller (0∙90
metre x 0∙90 metre), than the two latter. The ossuary had its cup
cover, and near its mouth was a three‑barred FIBVLA like that of number
1; westward lay a few small vases, of which one was zigzagged in relief at
the rim. Upon the burnt bones of the ossuary stood a few engraved FIBVLAE
and some bronze pins. Among the bones was the razor, much oxidised.
these four cases, then, the razor is always inside the
ossuary; it is accompanied by FIBVLAE, bronze pins, brown and
red earthenware, and a few engraved potteries. It remains to consider it in
connection with the pre Villanovan (Pelasgic?) age.
Number 1 tomb was walled with slabs of
molassa or yellowish sandstone; the inside (1 metre x 0∙70 metre)
showed a cup covered ossuary, engraved after the Grecian fashion. Upon the
bones lay the razor, together with certain twisted bronze FIBVLAE
of novel form, and the last found was a very long pin, also of bronze.
Number 2, similarly walled, showed the
great ossuary opening to the northwest. It was similarly worked, and covered
with a cup, also engraved, upon which lay an amber‑headed bronze pin.
With the bones were fragments of FIBVLAE, armlets, and a bronze LIGVLA;
at the southern angle lay three small bronze rings; and to the north, on a
level with the belly of the ossuary, stood the razor, worked with wolves'
teeth near the blade‑back.
Number 3 was stopped by a large
pebble, under which,
with its mouth opening south, lay the
main ossuary, cup‑covered, and adorned under the lips and around the
belly with Grecian tracery in white. Beneath this urn appeared a pin, and to
the east a small bronze celt with cylindrical socket (a bossolo cilindrico).
Little rings of the same metal lay below it. Mixed with the bones was a LIGVLA,
broken into very small bits, and two FIBVLAE with amber; finally, at
the bottom of the urn the razor lay flat, worked like that
of number 2.
Number 4 tomb resembled numbers 1 and
2, but it was much richer. A rectangle of 1∙00 metre x 0∙70
metre, its sandstone revetment formed a fallen cover for the ossuary, whose
mouth was turned southwards. Both it and the cup had large graffiti
in the Greek style. Among the bones were two large bridlebits of bronze, with
their respective belongings; [footnote 1: Translator's Note ‑‑ in the original la relativa bardatura, which means the whole harness or equipment
of the horse ‑‑
evidently not intended here] a pin, and engraved FIBVLAE. Near the rim was a little
bronze paalstab (axe), like those of Scandinavian
type, and then the razor.
Number 5 was covered with a large
revetment of sandstone. Underneath it stood the cup‑covered ossuary
turned southwards. The burnt remains were accompanied by a long cylinder of
bone, worked in straight lines after the Greek fashion. To westward lay flat
a very large and peculiar paalstab, whose faces were
engraved also after the Greek way, with triple zones in zigzag and with
toothed lines. On the south was an unusually long pin with amber under the
head, and near it lay the razor. The latter is peculiar in
its greater size, in its shape, and in its ornamentation. It is especially
noteworthy for the part between the back and the handle; and each face is
engraved near the blade‑back with Grecian ornaments like the paalstab,
the lowest being a zigzag zone.
then, are the five pre Villanovan (Pelasgic?) sepulchres containing the razors.
The principal accompanying objects are, as I have shown, urns with large graffiti,
celts, paalstabs, FIBVLAE, and pins differing from
those of the early Villanovan era.
different circumstances the razors were also found in three
tombs explored by my excellent colleague, Avvocato Arsenio Crespellani (see
his paper Di un Sepolcreto pre‑romano a Savignano sul Panaro;
Modena, 1874). He discovered one adorned with wolves' teeth in a
sepulchre which has all the characteristics of the Benacci group, of older
date than the Villanovan; and the two others in tombs which belong to the
first Villanovan epoch.