Painted terracotta cinerary urn with a man on the lid

Etruscan, 150-100 BC
Excavated at Chiusi, Tuscany, Italy

For the remains of Thana Ancarui Thelesa

The young man depicted on the lid of this urn wears a white chiton with a purple stripe, a mantle with a purple border and a gold finger-ring. He reclines as if at a banquet, and holds a type of drinking bowl known as a phiale. The theme of the relief decoration (five figures fighting) on the side of the urn is probably inspired by Greek epic or drama; such violent scenes were increasingly popular for funerary urns at this time. The way in which the figures are interwoven in a closely packed grouping shows influence from the style of Hellenistic Pergamon (Pergamum), a Greek city of Asia Minor.

A name is painted on the side of the urn: strangely it is that of a woman, Thana Ancarui Thelesa. We can only guess why this should be - the lid with the youth certainly seems to belong to the urn, and the scene of fighting might seem appropriate for a male occupant. Some unusual circumstance must have led to the use of an urn meant for a man for a female occupant.

The urn dates from a period when Etruscan culture was becoming increasingly similar to that of the Romans: the Etruscans practised the Roman custom of cremation as well as their own traditional custom of inhumation.

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More information


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


Length: 62.300 cm
Width: 27.300 cm
Height: 38.700 cm

Museum number

GR 1926.3-24.124 (Terracotta D 795)



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