In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Caere/Cerveteri

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Museum and Exhibition Catalogues
  • Collections of Papers
  • History of the Site
  • Excavations of the Ancient Urban Area
  • Excavations of Caeretan Necropolises and Individual Tombs

Classics Caere/Cerveteri
Lisa Pieraccini
  • LAST REVIEWED: 16 March 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0069


The Etruscan metropolis Caere, known to the Etruscans as Cisra (Greek, Agylla; Roman, Caere) was located in southern Etruria and had a commanding view of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Known today as Cerveteri (from the Latin Caere Vetus), the city is situated forty-five kilometers northwest of Rome and six kilometers from the Tyrrhenian Coast. Cerveteri is famous for its ancient tombs, numbering in the thousands and located in several necropolises—the Banditaccia, Monte Abatone, and Cava Della Pozzolana and the Iron Age necropolis of Sorbo. The numerous objects discovered in tombs demonstrate not only the wealth of the Caeretan aristocracy and its rich trade relations with the Greeks and the Near East but also the abundant talent of local craftspeople. Such tombs provide scholars with copious material reflecting daily life and funerary ritual. The architecture of Caeretan tombs reflects not only the homes of the living but also chronological and stylistic developments that span hundreds of years, making it one of the primary sites for understanding Etruscan domestic architecture. Late-20th- and early-21st-century excavations have revealed substantial civic and religious centers of the ancient city, confirming Caere’s leading role in southern Etruria.

General Overviews

It is important for undergraduate and graduate students to note that most of the publications on Caere are in Italian. A brief description of Caere is in Cristofani 1985. Dennis 1883, although dated, still offers one of the most detailed treatments of Caeretan tombs uncovered at that time. A general assessment in English of the Banditaccia necropolis with a nice introduction to the city is in Moretti 1978. Late-20th-century archaeological excavations are described in Cristofani 1985. The best comprehensive overview is Drago Troccoli 2006.

  • Cristofani, Mauro. 1985. Caere. In Dizionario della civiltà etrusco. Edited by Mauro Cristofani, 49–52. Florence: Giunti Martello.

    Packed with historical information and an overall description of the ancient site, this is one of the best brief treatments available in Italian.

  • Cristofani, Mauro. 1991. Cerveteri: Tre itinerari archeologici. Rome: Quasar.

    The three itineraries described by Cristofani allow for a full and complete understanding of the archaeological parks open to the public. A detailed guide for the layperson and the archaeologist.

  • Dennis, George. 1883. The cities and cemeteries of Etruria. London: John Murray.

    One of the earliest works dedicated to describing ancient Caere (primarily tombs) with lots of details regarding tomb architecture and decoration.

  • Drago Troccoli, Luciana. 2006. Cerveteri. Rome: Istituto Poligrafico.

    This book is perhaps the leading source on general aspects of ancient Caere. An indispensable resource for undergraduate students.

  • Marconi Cosentino, Rita. 1995. Cerveteri e il suo territorio. Rome: Quasar.

    This book is a compilation of the history of the site combined with various itineraries for visitors to Cerveteri and the surrounding area. A general guidebook for undergraduates.

  • Moretti, Mario. 1978. Cerveteri. Novara, Italy: Istituto Geografico de Agostini.

    An informative introduction to the ancient city and the necropolis in English with excellent drawings and maps. A useful resource for undergraduates and first-time visitors to Cerveteri.

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