Day 7: Tarquinia
September 22nd 2007
Team High School Musical Reporting:
Today we visited the Museum of Tarquinia, with Professor Bevagna as guest lecturer.
We were given the background history of Etruria; the history that we are focusing on can be divided into a five major periods:
1) Villanovan Period: prehistory period: 10th to 8th century BCE
2) Orientalizing Period: 7th century BCE
3) Archaic Period: 6th to beginning of 5th century BCE
4) Classical Period 5th to 4th century BCE
5) Hellenistic Period: until the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.E.)
At the museum, we were able to get a look at pieces from the grave assemblages of Etruscan nobility. Some of the remains included drinking vessels, faience, and even a war chariot.
The pottery was particularly interesting, considering that progression of pottery styles in Etruria is somewhat linear. The chronological lineup moves from 1) Black Figure, to 2) Black and Red Figure, to 3) Red Figure pottery. All of the pieces are of a heavy Greek influence. *Interesting fact: there are more Greek pots found in Etruria than in Greece. This is because the Etruscans buried much of their pottery in tombs, whereas the Greeks used them practically; so over time, they have been destroyed.
(Excuse the reflection. Technically, there were no cameras allowed so we had to be sneaky. Don’t tell!)
After the Museum, the group headed over the Tarquinia necropolis. The necropolis was used from the 8th century to the Hellenistic Period, but the tombs that we viewed were primarily from the 6th and 5th centuries. The most interesting part of these tombs was the eclectic assortment of fresco designs. All of the tombs in the necropolis were originally painted, but out of the approximately 1,000 tombs, only 2% of them had figural depictions (the others were composed of geometric designs).
We looked very hard to find a depiction of Phersu, a game played in ancient Etruria where a man was blindfolded and then forced to fight a leashed dog, but we were unable to do so. We played a game later, with Zeke as the dog. Phersu comes from the Etruscan word for “mask,” and it is believed to have influenced the gladiatorial games in Rome. Despite the Etruscans’ love of violence, it was surprising that no scenes of war were found on any of the frescoes.
Perhaps better than any of the frescoes was Lily Dahn’s drawing of Michael, which was noted by everyone for its photorealism.
After strolling around individually and seeing all of the tombs that were opened for visitors, we hopped on the bus to go see the Ara della Regina, the second largest temple on the Italic Peninsula other than the Temple of Jupiter in Rome. There is believed to have been a water cult associated with the temple due to a stream located in the vicinity, and considering that the Temple had columns on three sides, we know that it was of the Etruscan style, not the Greek. The altar, unfortunately, was closed. However, we all channeled a little Indiana Jones and hopped the fence (well, Irat vaulted the fence), dodged some booby traps, and broke onto the altar.