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Painted terracotta cinerary urn with a man on the lid

 

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

GR 1926.3-24.124 (Terracotta D 795)

Room 71: Etruscan world

    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.

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

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