Despite the lack of grave goods, Baratti was able to date the shackle burial to at least the 5th century B.C.
"Right on top of the shackled man, we found the grave of a woman buried with earrings and other goods which clearly date to the 4th century B.C. We estimate that at least a century had passed before they built a new necropolis," Baratti said.
The finding reveals a lesser known aspect of the Etruscan civilization, which began to flourish around 900 B.C., and dominated much of Italy for five centuries. Known for their art, agriculture, fine metalworking and commerce, the Etruscans became absorbed into the Roman empire by 300-100 B.C.
Their richly decorated tombs have painted an image of a fun-loving and eclectic people who respected women and taught the French how to make wine, the Romans how to build roads, and introduced the art of writing into Europe.
The shackled man reveals a more disturbing side of the traditional Etruscan image.
"They could be cruel as well," Baratti said.
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He described the Phersu funerary game, depicted in at least four tombs in Tarquinia, in which a masked man known as Phersu holds a dog on a leash.
As the Phersu pulled on the leash, a nail on the dog's collar dug into the animal's neck, angering the dog and causing it to attack a man. Many scholars are also now convinced that the Etruscans performed human sacrifice. Excavations carried out between 1982 and 2005 revealed gruesome remains in a monumental sacred area of Tarquinia.
"Many individuals, including children, a woman and a foreign man, were decapitated, dismembered and/or physically abused," leading Etruscan scholar Nancy Thomson de Grummond, professor of classics at Florida State University, told Seeker.
According to Baratti, further research is needed to understand the shackled burial.
Analysis, including DNA, might reveal more about the mysterious individual, if he had diseases and whether he was a local or foreigner.
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