The Villanovan and Orientalizing Periods
Introduction -- The Villanovan Style and Geometric Art -- Orientalizing Art in Etruria -- Figurative & Non-Figurative Art --
The Early & Middle Archaic Period
Introduction -- Transitional Reliefs and Wall Paintings -- Literary Aspects of Archaic Art -- Middle Archaic Painting and Metal Reliefs -- The Schools of Tarquinia and Caere --
The Late Archaic Period
Painting and Metalwork
The Classical Era: The Fifth Century
Wall Paintings and Stone Reliefs
Etruria, ancient country, W. central Italy, now forming Tuscany and part of Umbria. It was the territory of the Etruscans, who in the 6th cent. B.C. spread Etruscan Civilization throughout much of Italy. They were later forced back into Etruria and ultimately dispersed.- [Harris, William H., and Judith S. Levey, eds. The New Columbia Encyclopedia. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1975.]
Etruscans migrated to Italy from Lydia in Asia Minor in the 12th cent. B.C. Culture Evolved from 8th-4th centuries B.C. - [Harris, William H., and Judith S. Levey, eds. The New Columbia Encyclopedia. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1975.]
Etruscan Art - The art of the inhabitants of Etruria, by the 8th cent. B.C., incorporated the area in Italy from Salerno to the Tiber River. Archaeologists have been unable to trace the precise development of Etruscan art. Although clearly much is owed to Greek sources, Etruscan works have a definite character of their own. The principal centers of art were Caere [Cerveteri], Tarquinii, Vulci, and Veii [Veio]. As a consequence of abundant ore deposits, bronze statuary was common, as were large-scale carvings. Most Etruscan sculpture, however, was executed in clay. The Etruscan cult of the dead, similar to contemporaneous Egyptian practices, produced a highly developed sepulchral art. Clay sarcophagi and urns were modeled with great skill. The sculptured lids of sarcophagi often represented a single figure or a couple reclining on a couch. These figures wore the haunting archaic smile evident in early Greek sculpture. The amazingly naturalistic Etruscan portrait busts were probably a source for later Roman portrait sculpture. Fresco paintings were common in the underground funerary vaults; they depict banquets, festivals, and scenes of daily life. Executed in a strictly two-dimensional style, they are decorated with foliage motifs. Roman art absorbed the Etruscan by the 1st cent. B.C. See studies by Emeline Richardson , Raymond Bloch , Mario Moretti [1966, tr. 1972], Axel Boethius and J. B. Ward-Perkins .- [Harris, William H., and Judith S. Levey, eds. The New Columbia Encyclopedia. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1975.]
Etruscan civilization, highest civilization in Italy before the rise of Rome. The core of the territory of the Etruscans, known as Etruria to the Latins, was NW of the Tiber River, now in modern Tuscany and part of Umbria. The Latins called the people Etrusci, and the Greeks called them Tyrrhenoi [whence Tyrrhenian Sea]. The fact that their language and culture differed markedly from that of other ancient peoples of the Italian peninsula at the time--Villanovans, Umbrians, and Picenese--indicates that they were of foreign origin. Some scholars consider them as indigenous to Italy, but evidence does not generally uphold this belief. The theory that they came down from the north has been largely abandoned, and modern research tends to uphold the tradition of Herodotus that the Etruscans migrated to Italy from Lydia in Asia Minor in the 12th cent. B.C. At any rate, a distinctive Etruscan culture evolved about the 8th cent. B.C., developed rapidly during the 7th century., achieved its peak of power and wealth during the 6th cent., and declined during the 5th and 4th cent. Etruria had no centralized government, but rather comprised a loose confederation of city-states, based primarily on religious rather than political ties. Important centers were: Clusium [modern Chiusi]. Tarquinii [modern Targuinia], Caere [modern Cevetri], Veii [modern Veio], Volterra, Vetulonia, Perusia [modern Perugia], and Volsinii [modern Volsena]. The political domination of the Etruscans was at its height c.500 B.C., when they had consolidated the Umbrian cities and had occupied a large part of Latium. During this period the Etruscans were a great maritime power and established colonies on Corsica, Elba, Sardinia, the Balearic Islands, and on the coast of Spain. Etruscan wealth and power was in part based upon their knowledge of ironworking and their exploitation of iron deposits that were abundant in Etruria. They brought the older art of bronze working to a new level of achievement, and Etruscan goldwork was among the finest anywhere in the ancient world. Extant examples of their craftsmanship are the large bronze portraits Brutus [Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome] and Orator [Museo Archeologico, Florence] as well as many fine tomb paintings. The Etruscans were also noted for their black bucchero pottery and were experts with the wheel. Much of the actual work in Etruria was done by the native population, who were subject to, though probably not slaves of, their conquerors; the nobility of Etruscan birth formed an exclusive caste. Fond of music, games, and racing, the Etruscans introduced the chariot into Italy. They kept up a large commerce with the East, and many of their art motifs are from the East. In the late 6th cent. a mutual agreement between Etruria and Carthage, with whom Etruria had allied itself against the Greeks c. 525 B.C., restricted Etruscan trade, and by the late 5th cent. their sea power had come to an end. Meanwhile the Romans, whose culture had been greatly influenced by the Etruscans [the Tarquin rulers of Rome were Etruscans], were distrustful of Etruscan power. In the early 4th cent., after Etruria had been weakened by Gallic invasions, the Romans attempted to beat the Etruscans back. Beginning with Veii [c.396 B.C.] one Etruscan city after another fell to the Romans, and civil wear further weakened Etruscan power. During the Social War [90 B.C.-88 B.C.] of Sulla and Marius the remaining Etruscan families allied themselves with Marius and in 88 B.C. Sulla eradicated the last traces of Etruscan independence. The Etruscan language presents difficulties to the scholar. It can be easily read [the alphabet is of Greek extraction, and the sound value of the signs is known], but, with the exception of only a few words, the vocabulary is not understood. Although the language seems to contain both Indo-European and non-Indo-European elements as well as traces of ancient Mediterranean tongues, it cannot be classified into any known group of languages. Inscriptions in Etruscan are few and short and seem to refer entirely to funeral practices. While religion is perhaps the best-known aspect of Etruscan civilization, even it remains quite enigmatic. Etruscan art, formally dependent upon Greek art, is equally complex for, while the forms are recognizably Hellenized, the underlying spirit still retains a barbaric energy quite opposed to the Greek search for perfection in harmony. See Raymond Block, The Etruscans [tr. 1958]; H. Harrel Court¶s, Etruscan Italy [tr. 1964]; O. W. von Vacano, The Etruscans in the Ancient World [tr. 1950, repr. 1965]; Leonard von Malt, Art of the Etruscans ; Werner Keller, The Etruscans .
[Harris, William H., and Judith S. Levey, eds. The New Columbia Encyclopedia. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1975.]
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