Museo Archeologico a Colle di Val d'Elsa

Archaeological Museum

A collection that gives a historical understanding of the area

Piazza Duomo, 42

This museum is dedicated to the memory of the great Sienese scholar Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli (1900-1975), to whom we owe the first systematic studies of the local area. The museum houses a collection of finds which come exclusively from the Elsa Valley and which give visitors a historical understanding of this area, beginning with the Eneolithic period and continuing until the Middle Ages. There are only sporadic finds relating to the Paleolithic era in the Colle di Val d'Elsa area, and in the Elsa valley as a whole, a fact due more to the lack of systematic, focused research than to the actual absence of human settlements in this period.

Finds displayed in the Archeological Museum from this earliest period are dominated by two Eneolithic underground tombs from the Le Lellere area, which came to light during digging for road works. There are enough finds to allow archaeologists to confidently date them as from the 4th millennium BC. With the advent of the full Etruscan period, from the Archaic era down to the end of the Hellenistic period, Colle boasts a large number of finds including a variety of graves and a plethora of necropolises. These finds make it one of the largest areas of archeological interest in Tuscany and the Archeological Museum which houses those finds is therefore one of the most important in the whole region.

The area of Colle, which was ruled over by the town of Volterra, was an important crossroads to and from central and northern Etruria, a fact proved by some very important finds, especially in the vicinity of two large necropolises: the Le Ville necropolis and the Dometaia necropolis.

In the necropolis situated north-west of the small collection of houses at Le Ville, the first productive excavations in the area were carried out in the 18th century, and continued in the following century (1872), leading to the discovery of numerous objects. More recent explorations by the Gruppo Archeologico Colligiano (Colle Archaeological Group) have had the aim of cleaning up the burial sites. Since 1976, 10 chamber tombs have been uncovered and all have been seriously damaged. Many of their ceilings have collapsed and more sadly, many have been robbed.

The use of the necropolis continued until the end of the Hellenistic period. As far as we are aware, the necropolis was divided into two groups of tombs a few hundred metres apart: the necropolis which certainly seems to be Archaic, and which looks down onto the Senna, a seasonal stream; and the predominantly Classical and Hellenistic necropolis, which looks toward the river Elsa. Worthy of mention in the first group, the more Archaic group, is Tomb 1, both owing to its characteristic shape and owing to the funerary goods it contained which can be dated between the mid-7th century and the 6th century BC.

Around 20 tombs have been cleaned and studied since 1974 at the Dometaia necropolis and, although they are spread out in a long line over the crest of the ridge, two larger groups can be discerned among them: one around 150 metres away before one gets to the houses at Dometaia, and the other in the borgo (hamlet), both along the road and underneath the houses themselves.

Another interesting detail is the presence of several examples of Etruscan writing, carved onto the platform, which have not yet been deciphered.

The style of the tomb, and the skill with which it was made, reminds one of the monumental tombs found in the more famous and better-publicized parts of Etruria, and its date suggests it was used from the Archaic period (6th century BC) until the late Hellenistic period.

The reasons why the museum arouses such interest are also due to the splendid pieces which come from the tomb of the noble Calisna Sepu family, in the context of the Pierini Tomb (7th century BC). The Calisna Sepu tomb, considered to be the richest Hellenistic find made in northern Etruria, has large black-slip vases which are regarded as among the most representative of this kind of pottery, the only example of over-painted Volterran kelebe, some very fine bronze mirrors, and a large array of table ware as used by the Etruscan upper class.

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Colle di Val d'Elsa
Ancient village, home to a famous Archaeological Museum and the Art Museum "Complesso di San Pietro"
Colle Val d’Elsa is a centre for art and culture near Siena with a population of over twenty thousand inhabitants. It sits between the hills and the river Elsa. Colle di Val d’Elsa is home to the ‘Bianchi Bandin’ Archaeological Museum, the Civic Museum of Sacred Art, Palazzo Campana and Palazzo Pretorio. ...