Anthropological examination suggested the remains might belong to the real warrior prince -- a male aged between 20-30 years. It also confirmed the skeleton's female gender.
Indeed, it was normal for the Etruscans to have a burial for a woman, while the warrior was cremated, as a sign of respect.
The location of the newly discovered tomb on the flank of an imposing mound, the Queen Tomb, explains the aristocratic status of both the woman and the incinerated male, said the archaeologists.
Dating to the 7th century B.C., the mound is the largest among the more than 6,000 rock cut tombs (200 of them are painted) that make up the necropolis in Tarquinia. The closeness to the imposing Queen Tomb, in an area that would have been off limits to ordinary people, suggests the tomb's occupants were somehow related to the high status elite class of Tarquinia.
According to Mandolesi, the role of the spear, which prompted conjectures about the existence of an Etruscan "warrior princess," can be explained by looking at similar examples in Etruscan and Latin tombs from the same age, the so-called Orientalizing period (due to the influence on the Etruscans from the Eastern Mediterranean.)
"The spear was placed along the woman's body as a symbol of union with the incinerated male. It highlighted her aristocratic status and the close family relationship with the cremated remains," Mandolesi told Discovery News.
Unlike women in ancient Greece and Rome, Etruscan ladies had a key role in society. Exquisitely dressed, they actively participated in public life, enjoying equal status and dignity with men.
As the digging season closed, Mandolesi and colleagues have begun studying and analyzing the grave's contents to try answer several intriguing questions.
"It's a great find. It certainly requires more research and study," Mandolesi said.