Etruscan Art

Alexandra Carpino

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online April 2011 | | DOI:
Etruscan Art

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Although Etruscan art has never been accorded the same value or respect given to the material remains of the Greeks or Romans, especially in the English-speaking world, it represents the most important evidence we have for understanding their civilization and its place in the ancient Mediterranean world. From the 8th century bce on, a wide variety of local and immigrant artists and craftsmen created homes, temples, tombs, paintings, sculptures, vases, jewelry, mirrors, and more for individuals eager to communicate statements about their wealth, their families, their beliefs, and their cultural traditions. Today, the view that denigrated Etruscan art as either culturally inferior to Greek art or a poor imitation of it has been set aside, as has the idea of one-way (i.e., Greece to Etruria) trade. Foreign influences—whether from the Near East and the Aegean during the late 8th and 7th centuries, or from Attica during the 6th through 4th centuries—remain undeniable, but their appropriation is no longer considered indicative of a lack of local creativity. In addition, the Etruscans’ active contributions to and interactions with a multitude of Mediterranean communities, along with regional artistic diversity within Etruria itself, are not only better understood but also more openly acknowledged, with the Etruscans now viewed as technological and/or artistic pioneers in a variety of media. Nevertheless, because so much Etruscan art comes from tombs or sanctuaries, many of which were not carefully excavated, assessments of both context and meaning remain challenging. The study of Etruscan art is further compounded by the absence of surviving literature and historiography, and the strong anti-Etruscan bias in the few Greek and Roman texts whose writers comment on their culture. These lacunae make iconographical and iconological studies especially difficult and sometimes lead to fanciful speculations with respect to the ancient meaning or significance of individual works.

Article.  12030 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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