Limestone cinerary urn in the form of seated man

Etruscan, about 540-520 BC
From a tomb at Chiusi, Tuscany, Italy

This limestone figure of a seated man was used as an urn to hold the ashes of the deceased after cremation. It was made in four parts, and the lower section was hollowed to receive the ashes. The figure's forearms, which would have fitted into the square sockets at the elbows, are now missing. The man is shown dressed in long tunic and shoes, seated on a typically Etruscan chair. Traces of red paint survive on the skin, and black on the hair and beard.

The habit of placing ashes in a container of human shape was well-established in Etruria at this time. For most of their large-scale sculpture the Etruscans used terracotta or bronze, perhaps because of the lack of fine stone for carving; the marble of Carrara was not discovered and exploited until the first century BC. Stone sculpture was generally restricted to funerary monuments.

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More information


E. Macnamara, The Etruscans-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Height: 1.220 m
Height: 1.220 m

Museum number

GR 1847.11-27.1 (Sculpture D 9)



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