The Hypogeum of the Volumnus family – an underground, Etruscan tomb in Ponte San Giovanni, a hamlet only five kilometers from Perugia – is dotted with various representations of Medusa, the terrible creature with the petrifying gaze that Perseus killed (keeping the head as a terrible weapon against his enemies).
The splendid hypogeum was discovered by chance in 1840, and probably dates back to the 3rd century BC. Medusa heads are featured everywhere: sculpted on the roofs of some of the ten separate rooms in it, and on many of the urns.
The mythological Gorgon with poisonous snakes instead of hair was a popular decorative element in Etruscan-Italic culture, as many metopes, pediments, roof antefixes, vases, shields, and armors can attest. The deadly monster obviously had a “homeopathic” reinterpretation, and became the icon of terror that could keep away terrible evils.
Luckily, it cannot keep us away from the beauty of the Hypogeum of the Volumnus family: where Medusa is only made of stone, and beauty is real.