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Etruscan Art from Tomb of the Leopards

In this image we see a fresco, depicting dancers and musicians from the Etruscan era, located at the Necropolis of Monterozzi (which is situated east of Tarquinia in the Lazio Region of Italy).

The fresco, which was created circa 475 B.C., is now part of a World Heritage Site. It appears on the wall of a burial chamber known as “Tomb of the Leopards.” It is one of about 6,000 grave sites at Monterozzi’s “City of the Dead.”
    
The official website, for the National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia, tells us more about the ancient people who are buried at these grave sites and what their frescoes depict:

In 2004, the Necropolis was declared to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it hosts an exceptional monumental cycle of painted tombs described as “the first chapter in the history of great Italian painting.” It is the largest necropolis in the area around the ancient Etruscan city of Tarquinia, comprising more than 6,000 underground Etruscan tombs that completely cover the extensive hill of Monterozzi.

Adorned with scenes of human life that include huntsmen, fishermen, musicians, dancers, jugglers and athletes, the painted tombs illustrate the wealth and power of the occupants for whom they were built: They are a fitting symbol of their high social status.

Etruscan painting is all the more important because we have lost all trace of Greek painting: we can only imagine how it may have looked by studying the decorations in some of the exceptional tombs in Tarquinia, where experts have theorised that they see the hand of Greek artists who were attracted to Italy to decorate the last resting places of wealthy Etruscans.

These sentiments are echoed by scholars writing on behalf of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among other things, Colette and Seán Hemingway tell us that:

Much of what we know about the Etruscans comes not from historical evidence, but from their art and the archaeological record.

Click on the image for a better view.


Media Credits

Fresco from Tomb of the Leopards at Necropolis of Monterozzi, a World Heritage Site. Image online via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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