Robbie and his dog Pip are playing ball right next to that sacred and mysterious place--the Necropolis. A mighty kick from Robbie sends the ball flying over the hill and out of sight. Looking for it, the boy and Pip stumble across the entrance to a strangely painted Etruscan tomb. They go down the narrow, dark stairway and end up in a square room whose walls are covered with brightly-colored paintings of vases, leopards, and people in funny robes. Pip finds a pair of mysterious wooden pipes on the floor. Robbie plays them, bringing Vulca--a man in the wall painting--to life. Vulca admits he took Robbie's ball. In return, he gives Robbie and Pip a tour of the Etruscan tombs and introduces them to the other people in the wall painting. As a thank you, Robbie lets Vulca take the ball into the wall painting with him, to puzzle other modern visitors to the tomb.
A three-page appendix at the end of the book goes back through the ages to tell us more about the mysterious Etruscans--what they did for a living, what clothes they wore, what games they liked, and what language they spoke. It also defines such intriguing words as necropolis, haruspices, augurs, and lucumo.show more