Ancient Mediterranean

Etruscan

A brilliant culture once controlled almost the entire peninsula we now call Italy. This was the Etruscan civilization.

c. 800 - 500 B.C.E.

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The François Tomb
The François Tomb

The François Tomb is chock-full of elaborate frescoes with complicated messages we may never fully understand.

Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia (from UNESCO/NHK)
Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia (from UNESCO/NHK)

Doors to the afterlife, Etruscan tombs were happily decorated. But as war increased, that began to change.

<em>Apulu (Apollo of Veii)</em>
Apulu (Apollo of Veii)

Confronting Hercules in the middle of his labors, this clay statue of Apollo strides forward.

<em>Aule Metele (Arringatore)</em>
Aule Metele (Arringatore)

An Etruscan in Roman clothing, this figure is a masterwork—made as Etruscan culture was slipping away.

<em>Mars of Todi</em>
Mars of Todi

Lighting struck this statue dedicated to the Etruscan god of war, marking it as a particularly sacred object.

<em>Chimera of Arezzo</em>
Chimera of Arezzo

A vicious mythic beast, the Chimera is a terrifying mix of animals—that even attacks itself.

<em>Tomb of the Reliefs</em>
Tomb of the Reliefs

All signs point to a party: cushions, drinking equipment, and armor hung on the wall … but a party in a tomb?

Tomb of the Triclinium
Tomb of the Triclinium

Etruscan funerals were a celebration, where the living could share a final meal with the deceased.

<em>Sarcophagus of the Spouses</em> (Louvre)
Sarcophagus of the Spouses (Louvre)

Women in Etruscan society were far more active in public life than their Greek and Roman neighbors.

<em>Sarcophagus of the Spouses</em> (Rome)
Sarcophagus of the Spouses (Rome)

The intimacy of this clay sculpture is unprecedented in the ancient world. What can it tell us about Etruscan culture?

Temple of Minerva and the sculpture of Apollo (Veii)
Temple of Minerva and the sculpture of Apollo (Veii)

Forget what you know about Greek and Roman architectural orders—Etruscans had their own unique style.

Bucchero
Bucchero

The distinct black pottery of the Etruscans, bucchero, shines like metal, and was a symbol of rank and achievement.

Selected Contributors | Etruscan