Etruscan: c. 800 – 300 B.C.E.

Before Rome, the Etruscan civilization ruled much what is now Italy. The Etruscans left fine metalwork, elaborate tombs and a deep mark on ancient Roman culture.

Achilles sacrificing Trojan prisoners to the shade of Patroclus, tablinum of the François Tomb, Vulci (Villa Albani, Rome)
The François Tomb is chock-full of elaborate frescoes with complicated messages we may never fully understand.

The François Tomb

Aplu (Apollo of Veii) bust detail, from the roof of the Portonaccio Temple, Veii, Italy, c. 510-500 B.C.E., painted terra-cotta, 5 feet 11inches high (Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia, Rome
Confronting Hercules in the middle of his labors, this clay statue of Apollo strides forward.

Apulu (Apollo of Veii)

Inscription (detail), Aule Metele (Arringatore), from Cortona, Italy, early 1st century B.C.E., bronze, 67 inches high (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence) (image: corneliagraco, CC BY 2.0)
An Etruscan in Roman clothing, this figure is a masterwork—made as Etruscan culture was slipping away.

Aule Metele (Arringatore)

Mars of Todi, late 5th or early 4th century B.C.E., hollow-cast bronze, 141 cm high (Gregorian Etruscan Museum, Vatican Museums)
Lighting struck this statue dedicated to the Etruscan god of war, marking it as a particularly sacred object.

Mars of Todi

Chimera from Arezzo, c. 400 B.C.E., bronze, 129 cm in length, (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Florence)
A vicious mythic beast, the Chimera is a terrifying mix of animals—that even attacks itself.

Chimera of Arezzo

Tomb of the Reliefs, late 4th or early 3rd century B.C.E., Necropolis of Banditaccia (Cerveteri)
All signs point to a party: cushions, drinking equipment, and armor hung on the wall … but a party in a tomb?

Tomb of the Reliefs

Two dancers on the right wall (detail), Tomb of the Triclinium, c. 470 B.C.E., Etruscan chamber tomb, Tarquinia, Italy
Etruscan funerals were a celebration, where the living could share a final meal with the deceased.

Tomb of the Triclinium

Terracotta kantharos (vase), 7th century B.C.E., Etruscan, terracotta, 18.39 cm high (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The distinct black pottery of the Etruscans, bucchero, shines like metal, and was a symbol of rank and achievement.