The researchers believe that the room featured an "Etruscan loft" made from wood and clay, with wooden beams supporting it. Among the building materials, the team unearthed several parallelepiped-shaped clay bricks. They were placed on top of the dry stone walls and supported the wooden beams for the roof, which was covered with modern-looking terracotta tiles.
"These are the first intact Etruscan bricks ever found. Usually, the clay dissolves and, apart from some fragments, all that remains are red layers. These bricks have survived because they have been baked by the fire that destroyed the house," Rafanelli said.
Indeed, little pieces of charcoal, burnt wood beams and fragments of burnt pottery indicate that the house collapsed during a fire, probably set by dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 79 B.C.
"At that time, Etruscans and Romans lived peacefully together in Vetulonia," Rafanelli said.
According to Larissa Bonfante, professor of classics at New York University and an authority on the Etruscan civilization, the discovery is "really remarkable."