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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   



Mars invisible to the naked eye?

For some reason, humans thousands of years ago spent untold thousands of hours building massive underground shelters.

The Etruscans didn’t merge with the Romans, but rather they disappeared, while the Roman village rose to prominence around the same time.  

I believe the Etruscans suffered a massive strike from the sky, probably around 700 or 701 BCE, perhaps in the same celestial catastrophe that destroyed Sennacherib’s army outside Jerusalem in 701 or so.  Both the Bible and cuneiform records record the same destruction of the troops from the sky.

The early Romans worshiped Mars and their two highest religious days celebrated Mars, the Armilustrium, on October 24, and the Tubulustrium, on March 20 or 21, like Passover.  They had many other Mars worship days.

Many cultures around the world worshiped Mars before about 700 BCE, or the Axial Age.  The Sumerians identified both Mars and Mercury, two tiny dots invisible to the naked eye today.  The Greeks worshiped Mars.  Archaeologists have found many Mars amulets in ancient Israel.



Tom Carberry

The same forces that destroyed all the great native cultures are still very much in power today, maybe even more so now than ever.

Although the comment may have had a point of view, there's nothing really wrong with that. You, however, come off as petty and angry and very much having some sort of agenda. Not sure what that's all about, but it may do you well to avoid making comments that reflect so poorly upon yourself.

This very well written and most informative article regarding "Underground Etruscan Pyramids" has NOTHING to do with your petty little disagreement with the Judeo/Christian world in which we live. Your posting an athi-ass-t centric comment has no merit and adds no valuable information to this article whatsoever.... go troll and peddle your deviant thoughts and lower class comments somewhere else and leave us alone to enjoy the quality articles and fresh news that is found on the Ancient-Origins website.



Liz Leafloor is former Art Director for Ancient Origins Magazine. She has a background as an Editor, Writer, and Graphic Designer. Having worked in news and online media for years, Liz covers exciting and interesting topics like ancient myth, history,... Read More

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