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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Classical Collection/ HK : Etruscan Terracotta Head of a Bearded Man
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Etruscan Terracotta Head of a Bearded Man - X.0355
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 6 th Century BC to 5 th Century BC
Dimensions: 7" (17.8cm) high x 6" (15.2cm) wide
Collection: Classical
Style: Etruscan
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: HK. Art logic--l'Etoile d'Ishtar (Paris) 2003

Location: UAE
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Our knowledge about the Etruscan civilization is extremely limited. Our understanding of their language is still incomplete and most of the information that is known comes to us through the Romans, their one time subjects who grew to become their masters. The Etruscans lived under a series of autonomous city-states spread out across northern and central Italy. By the 3rd Century B.C., they would be absorbed into the burgeoning Roman Empire.

Made from a reddish clay, this gorgeous head still bears a remarkable amount of the original polychrome that once decorated its surface. His long beard is colored black. A series of undulating engraved lines imitate the texture of the beard, further enhancing the sense of naturalism. The physiognomy of this figure suggests he may be the satyr Silenos, a legendary companion of Dionysus. His plump, full cheeks, broad nose, and full beard all suggest this attribution. It is possible that this sculpture served as an architectural decorative element known as an antefix.

Antefixes were placed at the ends of cover tiles that ran along the sides of a building's roof. These polychrome terracotta plaques provided necessary protection from the weather for the wooden framework of the building. This custom was prevalent all over Etruria (the lands of the Etruscan), Latium, and Campania from the 7th century B.C. until the Roman period. In Archaic and Classical times, the Estrucan city of Caere (modern Cerveteri) seems to have been an important center for the production of such works and this protome may very well come from there. - (X.0355)


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