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The Etruscan Next Door

Art & Archaeology
The Etruscans are in the news again!  Claudio Bizzarri of the Parco Archeologico Ambientale dell’Orvietano has uncovered the first of possibly five 5th century B.C. – or earlier – Etruscan hypogean pyramidal spaces.  These are the first discovered in Etruria (Umbria, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Lazio)The team dug through 20th century earth to find space beneath the medieval floor of a wine cellar in the historical center of Orvieto.  The discovery is an important find and one that’s sparked a renewed interest in this fascinating civilization that had its heyday nearly 1,000 years before Rome was a gleam in Mars’ eye.

My Etruscan Neighbors

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6th Century BCE Cup

What would it have been like to live next door to an Etruscan?

Etruscans were short in stature but long on engineering and cultural sophistication.  They were adept at making wine, perfected the terracotta potter’s wheel, and were stellar metalworkers. Etruscan authority Professor Claudio Bizzarri recounts how Etruscan clay sculptors were called to Rome to decorate the Temple of Jupiter with statues. “They taught Romans to use civil engineering instruments to survey and build their famous roads”. Etruscan innovation is astounding, especially when you consider they didn’t have the benefit of modern machinery.  Their civilization survived from 900 B.C. until its decline and integration into Roman culture around 100 B.C.

Can I Borrow a Cup of “Zucchero?”

Fine, maybe the Etruscans didn’t have sugar, but they lived an orderly and communal lifestyle – adept at dividing land and spaces.  In fact, the architectural feature “atrium tuscanicum”, was originally Etruscan, not Roman.  Etruscan houses were covered with stucco and painted bright colors.  “They might have been considered a little “kitschy” for our tastes today”, laughed Prof. Bizzarri.

(part II coming soon..)

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by Toni DeBella

A Freelance writer and blogger at Orvieto or Bust, Toni recently packed everything she owns into two suitcases and headed to Orvieto, Italy.  She’s adjusted her tennis game to the clay courts and drinks way too many caffe lattes.

12/02/2018

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