Etruscans: a Hymn to Life at Maillol Museum

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The latest exhibit at Paris’s Maillol Museum shows the Etruscan culture not only in its usual representation, connected with the world of the dead, but as a population that loved life. Its mentality was modern in certain aspects, against the backdrop of a prosperous civilisation enjoying lively trade. 

Etruscans: a Hymn to Life at Maillol Museum

The exhibit on the civilisation flourishing between the ninth and second centuries BC will run through February 8 with 250 pieces on display, including amphorae, decorations, sculptures, chalices, funerary urns, and sarcophagi from large Italian and foreign museums, such as the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, the Vatican Museums and the Capitoline Museums in Rome, the Archaeological Museum in Florence and the British Museum of London. The exhibition, entitled ”Etruscans, a hymn to life”, was organised under the High Patronage of the Italian Culture Ministry.

”Unfortunately, the history of archaeological research has long been conditioned by this aspect of funerary urns and necropolises,” ANSA was told by Anna Maria Moretti Sgubini, honorary superintendent for Archaeological Finds of Southern Etruria, one of the curators of the show alongside Francesca Boitani, honorary director of the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia. 

”Later, thanks to the research in urban centres which has been set in motion in recent years, there has been a shift in the image of this population, which instead should be seen in its entirety, with its trade, production, traditions and customs of daily life.” She added that ”there is also the culture of death, and funerary sets undoubtedly evoke a powerful image, but we must keep in mind that this does not reflect the population’s daily life.” ‘

‘The exhibition,” the curator continue, ”aims to focus on certain aspects of Etruscans connected with life.” It can be seen that they were a wealthy population of merchants and traders who in the earliest era acted in accordance with principles taken from Oriental dynasties.

Moreover, they were a prosperous and thriving civilisation due to their territory rich in resources, from agriculture to mineral deposits. They were also able to develop an important trade network and exchanges with far-away locations. Moretti Sgubini noted that ”they were a population that had large-scale abilities and resources that loved to live well by following traditions passed down from other populations.”

The exhibition shows the visitor different Etruscan urban realities, ”showing how this civilisation was joyful and cosmopolitan”: the architecture of the temples in Veio, the stone sculptures in Vulci, the gold in Cerveteri, paintings in Tarquinia, terracotta in Orvieto, and the diverse artistic production in Chiusi, Populonia, Perugia and Volterra.

The connecting thread of the exhibition is architecture, but different parts focus on aspects of daily life like culture, writing, sport, religion and the temple, Eros, banquets, and trade. But also the relationship with the Orient and the importance of women and their active participation in social life had an important, modern role.

The curator noted that women ”were often represented, both in the sarcophagi and in the craters, at men’s side and at an equal level.” 

Source: ANSA [September 17, 2013]

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