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Take a close look at the following images:


, from Cerveteri, CA. 520 BCE.

Figure 6.8

Youth and Female Demon, Cinerary Container


Early 4th Century BCE. Figure 6.9

Sarcophagus lid of Larth Tetnies and Thanchvil Tarnai

, ca. 350-300 BCE. Figure 6.11

Discuss the changes in Etruscan tomb sculpture

from the seventh through the fourth century

BC. Using the examples listed above, how do

these sculptures reflect society’s view of

Etruscan relationships

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The Ancient World: Etruscan Art, Roman Art

Unit Description

Unit 4 will introduce students to Etruscan and Roman culture through the lens of historical models (Greek, Egyptian) as

well as antecedents—especially that of the present day. Students will understand the life cycle of empires and how artistic

production can follow enormous shifts in the larger culture.

Learning Outcomes

Employ the vocabulary and concepts used to discuss works of art, artists, and art history.

Identify the visual hallmarks of regional and period styles for formal, technical, and expressive qualities.

Interpret the meaning of works of art from diverse cultures, periods, and locations based on their themes, subjects, and symbols.

Relate artists and works of art to their cultural, economic, and political contexts.

Interpret art using appropriate art historical methods, such as observation and inductive reasoning.

Select visual and textual evidence to support an argument or interpretation.


Read the Lecture

Part 1


Part 2

Read the textbook:

Chapter 6: Etruscan Art

Chapter 7: Roman Art

The Ancient World: Etruscan Art, Roman Art

The Etruscans were the people who lived in Italy before the arrival of the Romans. The Etruscans had a different language and customs than the Romans, but they were very influential. As Roman culture grew, Etruscan civilization was overwhelmed, leaving little evidence behind. Huge


filled with tombs that still survive today, gives some idea of Etruscan life and art. Archaic Greek works heavily influenced Etruscan sculptures and temples. Etruscan sculptors excelled in bronze and terra-cotta production.

Romulus, and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome, established a civilization first ruled by kings, then replaced by a Senate. The Romans then established a democracy. Roman art reflects the ambitions of a mighty empire. This includes monumental buildings and sculptures. Roman architecture is revolutionary in its understanding of the powers of the arch, the vault, and concrete. Romans also decorated their architectural structures with paintings. A history of Roman painting survives on the walls of Pompeiian villas. The examples of Roman paintings show an interest in the essential elements of perspective and foreshortening. The Roman sculpture is greatly indebted to Greek sculpture but innovates in specific and new ways.

Chapter 6: Etruscan Art

Key Images

Fibula from Regolini-Galassi Tomb, Cerveteri, 6.1

Aerial view of part of Banditaccia Cemetery, 6.2

The burial chamber, Tomb of the Reliefs, Cerveteri, 6.4

Tomb of Hunting and Fishing, Tarquinia, 6.5

Charun and Vanth from the Tomb of the Anina Family, Tarquinia, 6.6

A human-headed cinerary urn, 6.7

Sarcophagus, Cerveteri, 6.8

Youth and Female Demon

, 6.9

Funerary urns in the Inghirami Tomb, 6.10

Sarcophagus lid of Larth Tetnies and Thanchvil Tarnai, 6.11

Porta Marzia, 6.12

Revetment plaque, from Acquarossa, 6.14

Reconstruction of an Etruscan temple, 6.15




), from Veii, 6.16


, 6.17

Portrait of a Man

, 6.18

L’Arringatore (the Orator)

, 6.19

Engraved back of a mirror, 6.20

By the 8th century BCE, the Etruscans had established colonies in Italy, reaching the height of their power in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE, and controlling much of the western Mediterranean with their fleet. The earliest account of the Etruscans is by Herodotus writing in the 5th century BCE. Herodotus believed that the Etruscans were Lydians, coming from Asia Minor to Italy in ca. 1200 BCE. Others claimed that the Etruscans were the descendants of the Villanovans, a people indigenous to Italy. Because of their vast commercial network, there are solid cultural links between the Greeks, the Near East, and Asia Minor.

Much of our knowledge of the Etruscans is based on their tombs and the objects found in them. Etruscan tombs, or


, were carved out of bedrock and replicated Etruscan houses, complete with chairs, beds, weapons, small animals, and household implements. While this practice of including objects for use in the afterlife can be seen in other cultures, most notably Egypt, the tradition of carving replicas of the items into the stone and not using the objects themselves is unique to Etruscan funerary custom. Etruscan tomb paintings often describe scenes of pleasurable daily life with bright colors. These scenes often depicted banquets with musicians and dancers, possibly reflecting funeral games, and were heavily influenced by Greek painting. The interpretation of these scenes is made difficult by our lack of information about the Etruscans and their beliefs about the afterlife. Cinerary urns, made out of bronze and terra cotta with the lid representing the deceased’s head, were used to contain the ashes of the dead. Terra cotta sarcophagi took on a different form. A terra-cotta sarcophagus from Cerveteri dating to the Archaic period is shaped like a dining couch or marriage bed with a couple reclining on top. The sculpture has most recently been reconstructed with the couple holding eggs, symbolizing fertility and eternal life.

Etruscan temples were built of terra cotta, mud brick, and wood, with stone foundations. The Etruscan temple architecture is characterized by a tall podium on which the temple rests, a deep porch, and often a tripartite cella in which Jupiter, Minerva, and Juno would be worshipped. The temple’s roof would be decorated with terra cotta sculptures, such as the

Apollo of Veii

(Fig. 6.16). The Romans would later use elements of Etruscan architecture.

The Etruscan city was laid out on a grid plan around two main streets that usually ran north and south (the


) and east and west (the


). This system seems to be based on Etruscan religious beliefs in which the sky could be divided into regions according to the points of the compass.

As with the Greeks, the Etruscans were also highly skilled at bronze casting. This can be seen with the


dating to ca. 500 BCE, now housed in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Although many Etruscan works were destroyed, this work may have been preserved because it seemingly reflected the founding myth of Rome and the story of Romulus and Remus.


https://www.sitiarcheologiciditalia.it/en/cerveteri-etruscan-necropolis/Chapter 7: Roman Art

Early Rome and the Republic

Key Images

Temple of Portunus, Rome, 7.2

Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, 7.5

Theater Complex of Pompey, Rome, 7.8

Reconstruction of pedimental sculptures from Via di San Gregorio, 7.8

Victimarius from the Via di San Gregorio pediment, 7.9

Sculptural reliefs from statue base, 7.10

“Brutus,” 7.11

Veristic male portrait, 7.12

Funerary relief of the Gessii, 7.13

Esquiline tomb painting, 7.14

Nile Mosaic, from Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, 7.15

View of the Forum in Rome, 7.16

Forum of Trajan, Rome, 7.18

Exterior of Colosseum, 7.20

Colosseum, 7.21

Pantheon, Rome, 7.23

Interior of Pantheon, 7.25

Scenic Canal, Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, 7.28

Augustus of Primaporta, 7.29

Portrait of Vespasian, 7.30

Portrait of Hadrian, 7.31

Portrait of Domitia Longina, 7.32

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, 7.33

West façade of the Ara Pacis Augustae, 7.34

Imperial procession south frieze, Ara Pacis Augustae, 7.35

Arch of Titus, Rome, 7.36

Relief in the bay of Arch of Titus, showing procession of spoils from the Temple in Jerusalem, 7.37

Relief in the bay of Arch of Titus, showing Titus riding in triumph, 7.38

Column of Trajan, Rome, 7.39

Lower portion of Column of Trajan, Rome, 7.40

Column base of Antoninus Pius and Faustina, “Apotheosis” and “decursio” reliefs, 7.41

Funerary relief of a butcher and a woman, 7.42

Aqueduct, Segovia, 7.43

Maison Carrée, Nîmes, 7.44

El Khasneh, Petra, Jordan, 7.45

Funerary relief of Tibnan, from Palmyra, Syria, 7.46

Portrait of a Woman, from Hawara in the Fayum, 7.47

Aerial view of Pompeii, 7.48

Scenes of Dionysiac Mystery Cult, from the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, 7.53

Second Style wall painting from the Villa of Publius Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, 7.54

Second Style wall painting of garden, from the Villa of Livia at Primaporta, 7.55

Fourth Style wall painting, Ixion Room, House of the Vettii, 7.56

Still-life painting of peaches and water jar, from Herculaneum, 7.57

Baths of Caracalla, Rome, 7.58

Basilica of Maxentius, renamed Basilica of Constantine, 7.60

Basilica, Lepcis Magna, Libya, 7.62

Palace of Diocletian, Spalato, Croatia, 7.63

Peristyle, Palace of Diocletian, Spalato, Croatia, 7.64

Interior of Basilica of Constantius Chlorus, Trier, Germany, 7.66

Portrait group of the tetrarchs, 7.67

Portrait of Constantine the Great, 7.68

Meleager Sarcophagus, 7.69

Arch of Constantine, Rome, 7.70

Constantinian relief from Arch of Constantine, Rome, 7.72

The Roman Republican period dates from ca. 509–27 BCE. During this period, Roman builders used Greek Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders of architecture and the Greek prostyle plan. Still, they also employed new forms, such as the arch, and invented concrete, which increased building flexibility. Early evidence of Roman building characteristics can be seen in the sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste. Roman architectural achievements such as the early use of concrete, barrel vaults, and engaged columns are utilized. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, with Etrusco-Italic features, was the first genuinely monumental building in Rome. The Romans explored the potential of vaults and arches and concrete in the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Basilica of Constantine, as supreme examples. The Theater of Pompey was the first permanent theater in Rome. Portrait sculpture from the Republican period tends to be veristic or realistic.

The Imperial period in Rome dates from ca. 27 BCE–CE 395. A new trend in Roman portraiture began with the reign of Augustus. A portrait bust of the emperor is depicted as a youth. There is often a link to the emperor’s divine ancestry in Augustan art, proposed by Virgil in The Aeneid. Modeled after Greek sculptures, such as the Doryphoros by Polykleitos, the Augustus of Primaporta carries various levels of meaning with the presence of Cupid referring to Augustus’ relationship to Venus through his Trojan ancestor Aeneas, and his breastplate showing his victory over the Parthians. The emperor is depicted barefoot, which often denotes divine status.

Roman domestic architecture can be seen in the examples found in Pompeii and Herculaneum, both cities destroyed and simultaneously preserved in the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. Roman houses and villas followed a regular axial plan, with rooms arranged along a longitudinal axis from the entrance, or atrium, to the peristyle courtyard. In the center of the atrium was an impluvium into which water would collect. The opening in the roof above the impluvium was called the compluvium.

Recently Roman wall paintings have been considered not only concerning influences but also in a more social context. Scholars are considering how these paintings might have expressed the ideas of the owner of the home or dictated usages for specific rooms. August Mau has suggested that there were four styles of wall painting. The First Style is meant to imitate masonry blocks with no figural scenes. The Second Style features illusionistic architectural vistas. The Third Style gives way to a more decorative scheme centered on a traditional ornament, and the Fourth Style is more extravagant. While these styles are not canonical, they help distinguish between earlier and later Roman wall painting styles. Roman illusionist painting, also known as trompe l’oeil(“fool the eye”), was indebted to an earlier tradition that developed in Greece. Images such as Still-life paintings of peaches and water jars were meant to amuse and delight the viewer.

Late Roman portraiture moves away from the highly realistic busts of Republican and early Imperial Roman sculpture in sculpture. We witness a new abstracted patterning during the late Roman Empire that exalts an inner spiritual life rather than an exact portrait representation. The colossal head of Constantine, dating from the early 4th century CE, combines specific physical traits with abstracted features.

Like painting, mosaics originated in Greece but were common in Rome during the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. A large quantity of Roman craft art also survived, including coins, glass vases, and cameos.


The Colosseum: https://parcocolosseo.it/

Pompeii: http://pompeiisites.org/

Herculaneum: https://ercolano.beniculturali.it/

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