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Case 7: Greeks beyond Greece

The Greeks and the Etruscans


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Nikosthenes: Wine-jar (amphora)

The name of the potter Nikosthenes is written on more than one hundred vases found in Italy. He was an Athenian, but he produced vases that would particularly appeal to the Etruscan market. This amphora, with its broad, flat handles, flaring rim and raised metallic-looking ridges, imitates a shape that the Etruscans themselves made in the bucchero technique (for instance GR.1.1934). In Athens, Nikosthenes made this shape of pot especially for export.

The scenes show a pair of boxers and men and women dancing, and the craftsman who painted this cup is known today as 'Painter N'.

Production place: Athens
Date: around  530–510 BC
Find spot: said to have been found Orvieto, Etruria, Italy
Fired Clay, black-figure technique
Given by The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum

Object Number: GR.3.1962

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Dionysos and Ariadne: Wine-jar (amphora)

The wine-god Dionysos reclines on a couch along with his partner, Ariadne. This subject may have been especially welcomed in Etruria, where, unlike in Greece, it was normal for wives to join their husbands at a banquet. On the other side of the vase, a troupe of satyrs prances along to join the party.

The craftsman who painted this vase was working in the manner of vase painter known today as the 'Lysippides Painter'.

Production place: Athens
Date: around  530–520 BC
Find spot: Vulci, Etruria Italy
Fired Clay, black-figure technique
Leake Collection

Object Number: GR.27.1864

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Polyphemus?: Wine-jar (amphora)

The clay of this vase comes from Etruria, but its subject is Greek. On one side warriors attack a giant, perhaps the Cyclops Polyphemus, and on the other Greeks fight centaurs. The friezes of birds, leaves and flowers resemble those on vases produced in the islands of the Aegean and on the west coast of modern Turkey. The style and subjects of this vase may have been brought to Etruria by Greeks from the eastern Mediterranean.

The painter of this vase was one of a group of craftsman known today as the 'Pontic Group'.

Production place: Etruria, Italy
Date: around  530 BC
Find spot: Vulci, Etruria Italy
Fired Clay, black-figure technique
Leake Collection

Object Number: GR.23.1864

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Theseus or Ajax?: Engraved ringstone

Greek craftsmen probably introduced seal-engraving to the Etruscans, who then became experts in their own right. The subjects often seem Greek, but are not always easily identifiable. Is this man Theseus with the sword of his father, or Ajax, about to fall on his sword after failing to win the armour of Achilles? Or is this an unknown, Etruscan story?

Production place: Etruria, Italy
Date: around  400–350 BC
Banded Agate
Given by de Pass, A.A.

Object Number: CG 124

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694506922869550
678286560565617
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