Abstract: Myths and Social Life in Etruscan Tombs: The Hellenistic Urns from Chiusi

The funerary ash-urns produced in the Etruscan city of Chiusi in the 3rd and 2nd c. BCE were decorated with a great variety of scenes, most of which illustrate episodes taken from Greek mythology. Due to the lack of literary sources for Chiusi in this age, as well as to the unsatisfactory state of the archaeological evidence pertaining to its urban center, these urns represent an invaluable source of historical knowledge. In particular, both the choice of themes and the iconographic details of the images allow us to get an insight into some basic values of the Chiusine society, and to follow the changes which they underwent during the Hellenistic period.

The talk will focus on the methodological and historical issues raised by this material. To what extent is the imagery of the urns specifically linked to the funerary context? How can we use it in order to draw general conclusions about the value system of the Chiusine society? What does the comparison with the contemporary cases of Volterra and Perugia tell us in this respect?

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