Height: 5.000 inches
Room 71: Etruscan world
Bucchero ware drinking-cup (kantharos)
Etruscan, about 600 BC
Inscribed with the Etruscan owner's name
This bucchero ware drinking-cup (kantharos) has an inscription reading mi repesunas aviles, ('I belong to Avile Repesuna'). Avile, of which the Roman equivalent was Aulus, was a common Etruscan name, and Repesuna was a clan or family name.
The inscription is written from right to left, as is normal with Etruscan writing. Around 13,000 Etruscan inscriptions survive, many of which can be read. However, very few long texts survive, as they were written mainly on perishable materials. The inscriptions that survive on pottery, bronze and stone objects tend to be very brief, like this one, recording simply the name of an owner, or details of the deceased on a sarcophagus or cinerary urn (container for the cremated remains of the dead). These are relatively easy to understand but the few longer texts that survive present a variety of problems.
In the seventh and sixth centuries BC, bucchero drinking cups of this kind were exported all over the Mediterranean and the form was adopted by the Greeks.
E. Macnamara, Everyday life of the Etruscans (Barsford/Putnams, 1973)
L. Bonfante, 'Etruscan' in Reading the past: ancient writ (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
J.D. Beazley, Etruscan vase-painting (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1947)
E. Macnamara, The Etruscans-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)