An antefix (from the Latin verb “antefigere”, to
fasten before) is a vertical component positioned
on the terminal part of a tile above the eave
along Ithe sides of a building.
On important buildings the face of each antefix
was richly carved and/or painted with vivid
colours. In less grand buildings mold-made
ceramic antefixae, usually of terracotta, would be
then decorated with figures or heads either of
humans or mythological creatures or other such
Etruscans spent a lot of effort decorating their
houses, and had a deep appreciation of civic
This antefix was evidently made, as one of many,
on a very early production line. This would have
given a pleasing effect of uniformity along the
roof top. As well as being decorative,
architectural terracottas served to cover and
protect exposed wooden parts of the architecture
from the weather elements.
On the present example, the moulded head with
furrowed brow has a pair of pointed
ears, a long beard and moustache, with red and
black painted details.
These protective revetments were at first
painted, but soon they took the form of
polychrome reliefs. Due to their fragility they
frequently had to be replaced, although, when
decorating temples, they
were not allowed to leave the sanctuary precinct.
Hence large quantities of architectural fragments
have been preserved because they were not
meant to be disposed of but buried instead in
special pits (bothroi) on the site.
For architectural terracottas the artists used
coarse, unrefined impasto which was usually
covered with a light coloured slip as a foundation
for the painted decoration. The reliefs were
usually made in moulds and fired after painting.
It was then during the Hellenistic period that
antefixes prevalently featured the faces of
maenads or sileni (satyrs), such as this one
The custom of covering wooden buildings with
coloured terracottas was dominant throughout
Etruria, Latium and Campania from the 7th
century BC up to the Roman period, and the town
of Caere must have been a specially important
centre in archaic and Classical times, given the