Defining an ancient civilization by the way it buried its dead is like summing up an individual's life by describing the way he or she died. Its not a very comprehensive story. But in the case of the Etruscans we can make a good guess about the way they lived because they sent their dead off to a world they hoped would be similar to the one they'd departed. Even with funerary objects being the only things we have to judge them by we can be sure the Etruscans had a pretty good time while here on earth. Paintings on tomb walls depict gala parties. Finely crafted housewares and adornments were placed next to and on the bodies of the deceased, ready for use, if only symbolically, in the next life. Archaeological excavations in many parts of Italy have uncovered fantastic examples of tomb architecture. The Necropolis at Cerveteri, 30 miles northwest of Rome, is a wonderland of carved and built stone tombs. Wandering through acres of cemetery, laid out like a city full of streets and houses, I felt like a visitor in the dream of an Etruscan's after-life.