The decorated graves of Tarquinia are among the more important pre-Roman records of classical painting in the Mediterranean. Their monumental series of funereal paintings, dated between the seventh and second century B.C. faithfully reflect the Etruscan civilization, of which they form a unique source of knowledge. They also represent indirect evidence of Greek paintings almost completely lost. The main goal of this research is the identification of pigments in order to clarify the unknown aspects of the materials used and, therefore, to furnish fundamental information to plan suitable restoration and conservation. With this aim in mind, complementary non-destructive and in situ handheld X ray fluorescence and Raman spectrometry were carried out on the wall paintings of eight of the more important Tarquinia graves, allowing us to highlight the use, together with common pigments such as hematite, carbon, goethite and calcite, of the more precious malachite, Egyptian blue, lazurite and cinnabar in some of the more notable tombs probably commissioned by rich nobleman. Furthermore, the research evidenced that the routine of mixture of pigments to obtain particular hues was a common practice for Archaic Etruscan painters. In this context the use of lazurite and probably of Tyran purple added to others pigments in symbolic details, opens new questions. On the whole, the value of these pigments gives additional importance to the Etruscan Necropolis. Moreover, the results of this study will be useful for future restoration and conservation strategies.
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