|Demetra brought back to the light only for Christmas time
A unique temple sanctuary dedicated to the goddess of fertility Demetra (Vea for the Etruscans) was discovered in 2006 in the wooded area known as Macchia della Valle, just outside the town of Vetralla, an hour's drive north of Rome.
|three flights up to visit Demetra
Hidden inside a natural grotto was a house-shaped cell complete with its cover. Precise scientific elements date the sanctuary and the cult to the 3rd century BC.
Along with many terracotta lamps, proof that night time liturgies were practiced at the sanctuary, archeologists found ex votos in the form of uterus and other reproductive organs.
|The goddess Demetra
These were probably brought as gifts to the goddess by married women and girls awaiting marriage asking for fertility and health.
|votive gifts found in the sanctuary
After 2500 years hidden beneath the earth, Demetra returned to the light when her magnificent terracotta statue was rescued from the hidden sanctuary.
|Goddess under glass
For just one week during the Christmas holidays local people and visitors were able to admire her at the Etruscan Museum in nearby Viterbo.
|Rocca Albornoz, Viterbo's Etruscan Museum
Like Demetra’s daughter, Persephone, the statue will be returned to the “underworld” of the museum’s storage rooms when Christmas is over. According to museum personnel there is no space for a permanent exhibit in the Etruscan Museum, housed in the gigantic Albornoz fortress.
|small exhibit in Viterbo Museum
The neighboring city of Vetralla, where the discovery took place, has both a functioning museum as well as several protected areas inside the City Hall (Comune) and city office buildings where the statue could very well be conserved and exhibited.
What is lacking is the will of local politicians and the understanding of how important this precious object is for the town and for tourism.
|A modern Etruscan meets the 2,500 year old goddess
When there is a will there is a way: a few years ago a couple of Etruscan sarcophaghi which had been sitting in the school parking lot for over half a century were brought inside to become the nucleus of a mini-museum.
Let's hope that Demetra does not half to wait another 50 years to find her permanent home. Your concern, suggestions and comments are welcome.