The Etruscan Necropolis of San Potente

Tuscania’s first recorded history dates to the Villanovian Period (900 – 700 B.C.), however it remained an important site throughout the Etruscan, (700 – 300 BC) Roman (300 BC – 800 AD) and Middle Ages (800 – 1400 AD).

The Necropolis of San Potente, first discovered in the 19th century and running alongside the river Marta, is one of the largest in the region, with over 200 partially excavated tombs. 

1729.resizedThe hills that surround what is the present day Casa Caponetti were a site of tremendous importance for the Etruscan people, who not only lived and travelled through the area but who constructed intricately detailed tombs for their departed here. Through preliminary excavations researchers have found roughly 30 acres of land used by these ancient people for the construction of tombs that date from the 7th century BC, as well as remnants of the lives they lived in the area.

Etruscan waterduct

Etruscan waterduct from the V century b.C

In addition to afterlives, the area was a bustling center for the commercial and cultural survival of the peoples who came after the Etruscans.

The land is intersected by the Via Clodia, one of the earliest paved roads dating from the Roman Empire (named for Emperor Claudius) as well as the still functioning water tunnel (cunicoli) that distributed water to the surrounding area and irrigated the farmlands we use today.

There is also evidence of communal stoves likely used throughout the Middle Ages, the ruins of the Church of San Potente, and until the 1950’s the area was used as a quarry to supply building materials to the surrounding area. Indeed, in World War II townspeople often used the water tunnel and its large cave as a refuge from attack.


A walk through this area is a window into 27 centuries of human development and innovation. 

We work with volunteer groups to organize excavations, and our findings are archived and catalogued by the Italian government for preservation. We are constantly working on new ways to explore these ruins and make them available to visitors and colleagues alike, and one of our greatest sources of pride is the opportunity to act as caretakers for this incredible resource. 


Header image courtesy of Cees Franke © All Rights Reserved.