The timeframe that we’re looking at in this lesson extends from around 515 BC to 100 BC. While this period does not include the entire length of time that the Etruscans existed, it includes the timeframe that encompasses the artwork that we’re looking at today.
This timeline highlights the period covered in this lesson. Note the arrow that indicates when the Roman Republic was founded—around 509 BC.
The geographical location for this lesson is the Italian Peninsula near the city of Rome.
The map below shows the Italian peninsula. The blue oval indicates where the Etruscan civilization was centralized.
When studying art and architecture of the Romans and Etruscans, it is important to understand in detail some key vocabulary.
A rounded arch is a rather simple semicircle arch. A barrel vault is a rounded arch that is essentially stretched out to create a series of rounded arches one right after the other. This creates a tunnel effect. Voussoirs are the stones that make up the arch, and the keystone, which is the centerpiece, keeps the whole structure together.
EXAMPLEHere is an example of the rounded arch:
In the above image, take note the voussoirs, which are the stones that make up the arch, and the keystone at the top of the arch. These are two important elements to the rounded arch.
The rounded arch used by the Etruscans was subsequently adopted by the Romans. It became one of the defining characteristics of Roman architecture.
For periods of time, the Etruscans developed along a similar trajectory with the Greeks artistically and architecturally. Some of their architectural elements became highly influential on Roman architectural designs. These influential elements included:
- The rounded arch
- The barrel vault
- The housing layout centered around a central court
Etruscan temples were highly inspired by the architecture of the Greeks, particularly in their layout and the stylistic elements seen above. One of the key differences was in their use of building materials.
EXAMPLEBelow is an image of the reconstruction of an Etruscan temple.
The Etruscan religion, similar to that of the Greeks and Romans, was polytheistic with specific deities that accounted for many major natural phenomena, such as the sun deity.
EXAMPLEBelow is an image of Apulu, or Apollo as he’s more commonly known.
This above image is of the Sun God, and he demonstrates the Etruscan familiarity with Greek kouros. It’s a life-sized sculpture in terra-cotta, which is fired clay. It depicts similar stylistic elements to the archaic sculptures from Greece, such as the archaic smile.
However, what can’t be seen in this photo is the overall composition of the sculpture, in which he is shown moving forward. Archaic Greek sculptures, on the other hand, are known for their stiff characteristics, similar to the Egyptian stylistic conventions that we’ve seen before. A sense of movement has come to be associated with Etruscan artwork.
Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR IAN MCCONNELL.