Ancient Etruscan Underground Pyramids Discovered in Italy

The Mysterious Ancient Etruscan Underground Pyramids Discovered in Italy

When archaeologists discovered the first ever Etruscan pyramid-like buildings under a city in Italy, they were at a loss to explain the mysterious structures.

Three years ago a team of U.S. and Italian archaeologists began excavations under a wine cellar in Orvieto, Italy, after identifying stairs carved into a wall as Etruscan style. As they dug through mid-20th century and medieval walls and floors, they encountered tunnels and caves. These large chamber walls were carved to slope up in a pyramidal shape.

Etruscan Pyramid columbarium, used as a working lab, and filled with artifacts

Etruscan Pyramid columbarium, used as a working lab, and filled with artifacts. Credit: Daniel George, Jr./Popular Archaeology

Popular Archaeology reports on the initial reactions of Prof. David B. George of St. Anselm College and Claudio Bizzarri, co-director of PAAO ( Parco Archeologico Ambientale dell’Orvietano ) and colleagues, “We discovered it three summers ago and still have no idea what it is. We do know what it is not.  It is not a quarry; its walls are too well dressed. It is not a well or cistern; its walls have no evidence of hydraulic treatments.”

The Etruscans created and shaped many subterranean paths and cave chambers, but until this discovery none had ever been found that were in such a distinctive form, with a narrow apex that slopes and widens into a square base.

Archaeology team excavates the Etruscan ‘Pyramids’

Archaeology team excavates the Etruscan ‘Pyramids’. Credit: Daniel George, Jr./Popular Archaeology

Etruscans are largely an historical enigma, emerging as a sophisticated culture around 900 BC in central Italy, and bringing art, fine metalworking, commerce, and writing to Europe and the Mediterranean. However, the society did not survive, and they were blended into the Roman empire, leaving few clues as to their culture.

Dubbing the underground pyramids " cavitá" (Italian for ‘hole’ or ‘hollow’), archaeologists have thus far managed to reach about 15 meters (49 feet) down. Much of the site had been intentionally backfilled in ages past for reasons unknown. Clearing the fill material has revealed many artifacts. According to Popular Archaeology, David B. George and colleagues have described the finds; “We know that the site was sealed toward the end of the 5th century BCE. It appears to have been a single event. Of great significance is the number of Etruscan language inscriptions that we have recovered – over a hundred and fifty. We are also finding an interesting array of architectural/decorative terra cotta."

A medieval chamber for raising pigeons, called a columbarium, filled with excavated pottery

A medieval chamber for raising pigeons, called a columbarium, filled with excavated pottery. Credit: Daniel George, Jr./Popular Archaeology

Excavations on the cavitá and related sites have produced ceramic materials, large basins, Attic red figure pottery, and more. In all, Claudio Bizzarri believes at least five similar pyramids exist beneath the city.

The mystery of the Etruscan pyramids continues to perplex researchers, with guesses as to their purpose including religious structures, or tombs. Bizzarri told Discovery News , "Most likely, the answer waits at the bottom. The problem is we don't really know how much we have to dig to get down there.”

For more information on the Orvieto sites and the ongoing excavation, visit

Featured Image: Underground tunnel system of Orvieto, Italy. Credit: R. Ferrari, Wikipedia

By Liz Leafloor    


We have an identical apotheke in Georgia, Vardzia cave-city.
I think contacting Georgian scientists will bring light to many questions.
As for the linguistic assistance, there are several tries to decipher Etruscan through Caucasian languages by Alexander Malovichko and others.
A very interesting excavation. Congratulations!

Nana is correct, I remember seeing the cave systems in Georgia when I was there in the 1990's. Very impressive. If people have not been to Georgia I highly recommend it - beautiful country, very, very nice and warm people and great history.

rbflooringinstall's picture

I wonder if the builders maybe traveled to Egypt and brought back inspiration from the Great Pyramid.

Peace and Love,


Egypt, as one of the beneficiaries of the destruction of Atlantis, was, for awhile, a hub of a worldwide civilization. But it was just one of four: Egypt, India, South America, and China were all major hubs.
The extant of the Americas has not yet been realized. The Chinese don't share information, so who knows? But Taoism provides a lot of clues. And what little has gotten out about the Chinese pyramids.
And India speaks for itself.

Every time such a discovery is made is makes me feel hope and anxiety at the same time.

Due to the Politically Correct culture we live in, and the continued domination of the Judeo/Christian world view the chance of any discovery to be made public is the same as for it to be re-buried or even destroyed.

So I hope we won't find everything just yet, just in case there are some great discoveries that might be considered a threat to the "elites" which would/might destroy it.


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