Italian archaeologists have found 27 new Etruscan tombs at the well-known burial site at Tarquinia, a town north of Rome. They have been digging since April after a chance discovery at a building site about 500 metres from the Monterozzi hill where the necropolis with painted tombs is located, just outside the modern city of Tarquinia. ''This is the most exciting discovery here in decades'' according to the archaeological superintendent for southern Etruria Maria Tecla Castaldi.

Castaldi spoke of the discovery after visiting one of the tombs on 6 May. She visited the only one that is open and estimated that it had been raided about 50 years ago. The other tombs are presumably intact, and even if they are not they can still prove valuable for research, according to Castaldi.

Since 6 May, police have cordoned off the area to protect it from tomb raiders as digs continue. Castaldi said that it is likely that more tombs will be found and that some will be painted. Some of the tombs will be uncovered and opened whereas others will be covered again by soil since there is not enough funding to carry out archaeological digs on them all.

Ancient Tarquinia was one of the most important Etruscan cities and, together with nearby Cerverteri, is one of the largest and most revealing archaeological sites where Etruscan tombs are located. Etruscans placed many objects in tombs and sometimes frescoed their tombs