National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Gretchen E. Meyers

Affiliation: Franklin and Marshall College

Gretchen Meyers is Associate Professor of Classics with Franklin & Marshall College, and holds her degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D.) and Duke University.  Her research interests are Roman and Etruscan Archaeology, the Tiber River and Roman topography, Roman space and urban theory.  She is Director of Archaeological Materials for the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project (Poggio Colla) in Italy.


The Etruscan hilltop site of Poggio Colla, located in the Mugello Valley approximately 22 miles north east of Florence, provides unique evidence for a community within an important sanctuary setting. Excavation from 1995-2015 revealed this major sacred space in Northern Etruria with a sequence of monumental buildings stretching from the seventh to the second centuries B.C.E. A number of votive depositions indicate varied acts of religious devotion at the sanctuary throughout its history, including several dedications from women. The recent discovery of a stele dating to the sixth century B.C.E. inscribed multiple times with visible texts that have been interpreted as sacred in nature further confirms a long history of cult continuity at the site. Excavated evidence for habitation and a significant ceramic and roof tile production center on the hillside in a region known as the Podere Funghi serves as an example of such a satellite community.

This lecture examines the archaeological remains from Poggio Colla to reconstruct a community shaped by its geography, architecture or economic growth. In addition the different types of votive actions testify to a steady stream of diverse worshippers and suggest that Poggio Colla can be viewed as a community of individuals joined by common beliefs, as much as by its built structures.

Richly colored and elaborately composed textiles dominate many familiar visual representations in Etruscan art, including painted tombs, cinerary urns and sculpted sarcophagi. These ubiquitous images suggest that, as in many ancient and modern societies, textiles surely played a significant role as cultural communicators of status, gender, age and other aspects of Etruscan social identity. Frustratingly, however, the archaeological record is largely silent on the ancient context of such textiles, as they are rarely preserved. For this reason, previous studies of Etruscan textiles have generally focused either on the representation of types of dress or the process of production through careful examination of ceramic textile tools. While these avenues of research have provided a great deal of insight into the diversity of Etruscan garments and the highly specialized skills of spinning and weaving necessary for their production, less attention has been directed towards the function and significance of ancient Etruscan textiles that were not worn or utilized as adornment. In fact, a close look at Etruscan imagery reveals numerous examples of textiles used as coverings and blankets, wall hangings and even offerings. In this lecture, I focus on several scenes where represented textiles are not part of a costume or attire, but rather textiles themselves seem to be primary actors in the performance of social rituals such as weddings and funerals.


See Gretchen E. Meyers's work in the American Journal of Archaeology.

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