François Tomb

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François Tomb
Ground plan of the François Tomb
François Tomb is located in Lazio
François Tomb
Shown within Lazio
Location Comune di Vulci, Italy
Region Province of Viterbo
Type tomb
Founded late fourth century BC
Cultures Etruscan
Site notes
Excavation dates 1857
Archaeologists Alessandro François and Adolphe Noël des Vergers
Condition ruined
Public access no

Coordinates: 42°25′2.8″N 11°38′20.6″E / 42.417444°N 11.639056°E / 42.417444; 11.639056

The François Tomb is an important painted Etruscan tomb from the Ponte Rotto Necropolis in the Etruscan city of Vulci, in central Italy. It was discovered in 1857 by Alessandro François (it)[1] and Adolphe Noël des Vergers. It dates to the last quarter of the fourth century BC. The tomb seems to belong to the Etruscan family of the Saties (or Seties) and one of its chief occupants is Vel Saties, who appears with his dwarf, Arnza.[2]

Its outstanding frescoes are significant both iconographically and also in terms of their comments on Etruscan history and identity.

Vel Saties, wearing the toga picta, and Arnza

The tomb contains a fresco depicting Caelius Vibenna (whom the Romans believed the Caelian Hill was named after) and Mastarna (a legendary figure whom the Emperor Claudius identified with Servius Tullius).[3]

The frescos were removed by Prince Torlonia soon after their discovery and were kept in the Torlonia Museum (Rome). Since 1946, they have been stored at the private Villa Albani in Rome as part of the Torlonia collection.

Some pottery vessels from the tomb are now in the British Museum.[4]

See also[edit]

  • Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.
  • F. Messerschmidt, A. von Gerkan, Nekropolen von Vulci, Berlin, 1930;
  • M.Cristofani, research on paintings of François Vulci grave. The decorative friezes, in Diala, 1, 1967, pp. 189–219
  • Steingr S. Aber, Catalogue raisonné of Etruscan painting, Milan, 1984, pp. 380–387;
  • PJ Holliday, Narrative structures in the François tomb, in Narrative and event in ancient art, Cambridge, 1988, pp. 175–197;
  • F. Coarelli, Revixit Ars. Art and Ideology in Rome. By Hellenistic models to the republican tradition, Rome, 1996, pp. 138–178;
  • S. Steingräber, Etruscan frescoes, from the geometric to the Hellenistic period, San Giovanni Lupatoto, 2006, pp. 68 et seq;


  • Bloom, Marcia G. 1974. The François tomb at Vulci, an Etrusco-Hellenistic monument. Thesis/dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Holliday, Peter James. 1993. Narrative and event in ancient art. Cambridge University Press.
Fresco in the François Tomb: Liberation of Celio Vibenna, from left to right: Caile Vibenna, Mastarna, Larth Ultes, Laris Papathnas Velznach, Pesna Aremsnas Sveamach, Rasce, Venthikau and Aule Vibenna, right: Marce Camitlnas et Cnaeve Tarchunies Rumach